Georgia, Florida will discuss selling alcohol at annual rivalry game

Sugar, a bulldog owned by Georgia fans, faces off with a Florida Gator before the 2018 game.   Curtis Compton/



Sugar, a bulldog owned by Georgia fans, faces off with a Florida Gator before the 2018 game. Curtis Compton/

Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said UGA and Florida will be discussing whether or not to sell alcohol in general seating areas at the schools’ rivalry game in Jacksonville.

The annual game is scheduled to be played in Jacksonville through 2021.

“We could always do what both schools desire to do, (but) alcohol has not been sold in the general seating at Everbank (now TIAA) Field since we’ve played the game there (1996),” McGarity said.

“It’s like any other neutral site game, as far as the same deal at Mercedes-Benz Stadium — schools could sell alcohol at professional stadiums,” he said. “So if we wanted to implement we could. It would be something we’d have to agree upon.”

Georgia is reviewing its current stadium alcohol policy in the wake of last Friday’s historic stadium alcohol vote by SEC presidents, but UGA president Jere Morehead said last Thursday that: “I think we’ve got it right at UGA, so I don’t see us making any significant changes.”

The league presidents voted (by majority) to grant schools autonomy in determining whether to allow alcohol sales in general admissions areas of stadiums.

The SEC put together a committee to study stadium alcohol usage in 2018.

Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin, whose school had a representative on the committee, indicated the findings were enlightening.

“It doesn’t seem like places who have introduced it (alcohol sales) have gone up in flames, so maybe it’s not as deadly as once feared,” Stricklin said. “The motivation that you hear is you might eliminate some other issues because you have a more controlled environment for adult beverages, instead of people binging in the parking lot.”

Previous league-wide SEC bylaws restricted sales of alcohol to private controlled areas, such a skyboxes. Beer could be sold at SEC games, but only in areas designated as premium seating.

The NCAA removed what had been a long-standing ban on selling alcohol at championship events last spring, and more than 50 FBS-level programs currently allow alcohol sales throughout their stadiums.

Teams already had the option of selling alcohol in pro stadiums, however, and chose not to do that.

The SEC has provisions in place for alcohol sales in general seating areas, as released by commissioner Greg Sankey last Friday

The expectations, as released by the league office at the SEC Spring Meetings are:

  • Alcoholic beverages are to be sold and dispensed only at designated stationary locations;
  • Alcoholic beverages may not be sold by vendors within the seating areas;
  • Identification check is required at every point of sale to prevent sales to minors;
  • Alcoholic beverage sales are limited to beer and wine only (no hard liquor or mixed drinks may be sold in public seating areas);
  • Limits must be established on the number of drinks purchased at one time by an individual;
  • Alcohol must be dispensed into cups;
  • Safe server training and additional training for staff to handle high risk situations is required;
  • Designated stop times for sale and/or distribution of alcohol must be enforced as follows:   Football (end of 3rd quarter); Basketball (Men's—Second half 12-minute TV timeout; Women's—End of 3rd quarter);  Baseball (end of the top of 7th inning); Softball (end of the top of the 5th inning);   Other sports (at a designated time, no later than when 75% of the event's regulation length competition is scheduled to be completed).