Alcohol not on tap for Georgia football games

semerson@macon.comMay 28, 2014 

Georgia fans at Sanford Stadium during a 2013 game.

JOHN KELLEY

DESTIN, Fla. - If you want to have a beer at a Georgia football game, either at Sanford Stadium or Jacksonville, you're still going to have to do so before going into the stadium.

While more schools, including LSU and Texas, are exploring the possibility of selling alcohol at home games, Georgia has no interest right now in doing so, according to athletics director Greg McGarity.

"It's not on any agenda. It's not on any plans moving forward," McGarity said Tuesday while attending SEC meetings in Destin. "I know the president's, Jere (Morehead), not in favor of it. I'm not. So it's not really a topic for discussion on our campus."

That also goes for the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, once known as the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

"Neither school really wants to make that opportunity available in Jacksonville," McGarity said.

The Pac-12 has been selling alcohol at games for years. West Virginia began selling beer at games in 2011, and the result that season was a profit of $520,000. Texas has begun selling beer and wine at some sporting events, and has been exploring whether to do so this fall at football games.

Now it's possibly creeping into the SEC, with LSU discussing it. LSU athletics director Joe Alleva told Al.com earlier this month that selling beer at football games "would enhance the fan experience."

LSU head coach Les Miles predictably had a funny line on Tuesday when asked if he had any thoughts on it.

"No, not really. I just don't want the officials to be able to drink before," Miles said.

SEC policy currently prohibits the sale and dispersal of alcohol at public areas of SEC stadiums and arenas. It is allowed at privately-owned or leased areas. And there are some neutral-site events where fans can be sold alcohol. There has been some discussion of changing the SEC policy here at meetings in Destin, but it has not been a huge topic.

McGarity didn't criticize LSU's move in that direction, and pointed out that some SEC baseball stadium - such as Ole Miss and Mississippi State - allow it in privately-owned areas.

"Every campus is different," McGarity said.

Why would UGA be opposed? McGarity cited logistical as well as other problems, including exposure to liability insurance.

"While it may be a huge revenue generator, what happens if someone has an accident going home and they've consumed too much beer in your stadium? It's hard of a liability (concern). We have enough liability as it is. I'm not so sure we want to undertake another stream of liability," McGarity said. "But it really gets down to the point where we haven't really discussed, because we know it's going nowhere right now.

"I just think it's different cultures, and at West Virginia they obviously feel that's the best way to handle alcohol consumption. And we just have a different opinion."

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