Thursday, 20 June 2019 12:16

Bill allowing beer and wine at university stadiums heads to governor

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RALEIGH — House Bill 389, which would open the way for universities to sell beer and wine at college sporting events, is awaiting a signature from the governor.


The bill, if Gov. Roy Cooper signs it, will expand existing legislation and also seeks to control consumption at NCAA events, such as football games, where drinking is prevalent but unregulated.

The House passed the bill, 88-25, Wednesday, June 19, without discussion. The bill passed in the Senate, 33-12, on Monday, June 17, but House lawmakers adjourned before hearing it.

Before the vote Monday, Sen. Warren Daniel, R-Avery, filed but failed to introduce an odd amendment, which would have effectively killed the legislation. The amendment would have limited customers to one alcoholic beverage per event and would have limited consumption to just 50 percent of the stadium’s seats.

H.B. 389 applies only to beer and wine — not to spirits or mixed drinks — and depends on approval by respective schools’ boards of trustees.

The bill, which has the support of 14 out of the 15 UNC System traditional colleges, would bring NC public universities in line with private schools — such as Wake Forest, Elon and Duke — that are already selling alcohol at athletic games, a news release from sponsor Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, says.

UNC Pembroke did not sign the letter.

Don Metzger, UNCP Board of Trustees chairman, issued a statement saying the university will continue with existing alcohol policies, the Robesonian reported. Consumption of alcohol is allowed during tailgating activities before Braves football games, but not in the stadium.

Simply put, as Bell emphasized, the bill would allow adults of legal drink age the opportunity to act responsibly.

“By giving N.C. public universities the option to sell beer and wine at athletic events, this bill will improve safety and encourage local economic development,” Bell, a primary sponsor, has said. “With it already happening at private universities and within premium seating only at public schools, it simply makes sense to give all UNC System schools the choice to sell alcohol to legal-age fans — regardless if they can afford expensive seats.”

Statistics show when schools allow the sale of alcohol the number of alcohol related incidents dramatically drop, the news release says. After allowing alcohol sales in 2011, West Virginia University saw a 35% decrease in such incidents. The Ohio State University saw a similar decrease in 2016 — from nearly 300 incidents to about 60 — while also generating $1.2 million in sales that year.