Booze at Triangle college sporting events soon could be a thing

When the Wolfpack take the field in late August for their game against ECU, fans might be able to hold more than a souvenir soda.

House Bill 389 would give universities the ability to sell alcohol at sporting events.

The idea came several years ago when the NCAA lifted their ban on alcohol sales--universities could capitalize on new revenue streams.

If approved, it would be up to each university's individual board of trustees to decide whether they did want to sell alcohol (i.e., beer and wine only). Universities would still have to apply to the ABC Commission once they made their decision.

Universities do not have to sell alcohol if they don't want to.

"It's also fair to say there's beer served now it's just in the exclusive club areas of these schools," said Representative David Lewis, one of the sponsors of the bill.

Lawmakers say they're focused on public safety issues in and around the stadium. They say studies have shown selling beer inside leads to a reduction in alcohol-related instances at football games.

"I feel like a lot of that stuff is getting into the football game one way or another," said Eric Swanson, a rising junior. "So if it's being sold in the stadium, maybe it makes less of a problem for police if it becomes legal."

Fans would still have to be 21 or older to purchase the alcohol inside.

Julianna Thomsen, a rising sophomore at NC State, doesn't think it would get fans to drink less in the parking lot.

"College kids live for tailgates and that's just it," she said. "Most of the drinking usually happens at the tailgate so I don't know if it'll make a huge difference to be honest. The profits for the university are great and it's not just college kids at these games. Most adults probably want to have a beer at a game like this like they have a beer at an NFL game."

Haywood Cochrane, Chair of UNC-Chapel Hill's Board of Trustees, signed the original letter of support that helped put the legislation into motion.

"Our board is awaiting the legislature's final vote and hope we're able to move this forward," Cochrane said in a statement.

The bill goes back to the House on Wednesday after the Senate made a few changes. If passed, it will head to Governor Cooper's desk.

The UNC System said "it has complete trust that the Board of Trustees will make an informed decision and place safety of their event attendees front and center."
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