Bottoms Up At Ball Games
Alcohol was approved by the Regional University System of Oklahoma Board of Regents to be sold at UCO’s athletic events at their Sept. 6 meeting, according to Sheridan McCaffree, RUSO executive director.
UCO was given a one-year exception to the original policy of no alcohol on campus for a pilot project per a request by UCO President Patti Neuhold-Ravikumar, McCaffree said.
As of right now, alcohol will only be sold at football games beginning this month, according to Chris Brannick, assistant athletic director for media relations at UCO.
“We are working toward selling at other venues,” Brannick said.
The beer available for purchase at the stadium is 12-ounce cans of Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite and Modelo for $5, and Blue Moon, Shiner Bock and Frenzy Blonde for $6.
The wine available is 8.4-ounce cans of Clauren Ridge Wine, a vineyard and winery based in Edmond. The types of wine available are red, white, peach watermelon, mango and pumpkin spice for $8. All of the wine cans are 14 percent alcohol.
Some UCO fans are in favor of the sale of alcohol.
“I think it’s a good idea business-wise because [the drinks] probably attract a lot of people,” said Derek Hall, a UCO senior. “When you have an alcoholic drink when you’re watching the game it makes it more fun — it kind of completes the experience.”
While Hall was in favor, some students like senior Langden Subia were opposed to the sale of alcohol.
“I’m against it because it makes it very difficult to re-enter the games,” Subia said. “I had to go to the guest services [and] get a card so that I could come back into the game after I had to go to my car because they’re selling alcohol.”
Subia also said he doesn’t see the point of having alcohol at games because he doesn’t think students will benefit from it. He said he believes that the alcohol will also not increase the attendees of games.
“I think [the price of the alcohol] is not really tailored toward students, especially college students because they can’t afford a meal half the time, [so] they’re not going to be able to afford a drink that’s the same price as a meal,” Subia said.
As soon as the gates open for a football game, the alcohol stands open at the far left and right sides of the main concession stand. Alcohol was available through the end of the third quarter.
“Oklahoma City Special Events, [an event planner in OKC], is our concessionaire and will distribute through the concession stand,” Brannick said.
OKC Special Events has worked with UCO before to provide concessions, according to Brannick.
The concessionaire will follow UCO’s protocols for selling alcohol on school property. OKC Special Events will require game attendees to provide identification to ensure they are of the legal age to drink. If they are 21 or older, they will be given a wristband to signify they can drink inside the event.
Attendees will be limited to two alcoholic beverages in a single purchase and if the server decides a person is too intoxicated, they may refuse service and ask a UCO officer for assistance in removing their wristband, conducting a field sobriety test or removing them from the even, if needed.
Some of the other operational protocols in place include: alcoholic beverages are not allowed to leave the premises when purchased; the re-entry policy has changed because of the alcohol, therefore, a fan may not re-enter a game if they leave the stadium/event — they will have to purchase another ticket; UCO Athletics will maintain the same amount of officers on site, if not more; and the sale of alcoholic beverages will only be at stand-alone locations, which are separate from the main concession stand.
Jeffrey Harp, executive director of public safety at UCO, said UCO officers do not anticipate any issues to arise with the sale of alcohol at games.
“We had zero problems [at the first game],” Harp said.
Harp said the officers look for someone who is being disruptive or looks underage and they will address the situation promptly. There are occasional occurrences where someone will over-drink, but the officers are prepared to handle it if it happens, he said.
“I think the vendor will take care of their business, and we will deal with the rare problem if it pops up, but I really don’t expect there to be any significant issues from inside the stadium with the alcohol sales,” Harp said.
UCO is the first school within the regional university system to sell alcohol. The other regional universities are East Central University, Northeastern State University, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Southwestern Oklahoma State University.
Brannick said it is unclear if the selling of alcohol will increase attendees of games, but it will be monitored as the athletic department hopes to provide a better gameday experience.
“We believe that there are enough fans who are interested in purchasing alcohol at sporting events that it would be worth doing the same here,” Brannick said. “Fans enjoy watching sports and having a drink, whether that be at home watching on television or at any other local event (Thunder games, Dodger games, etc.). We want to provide the same experience at UCO.”
The department will also evaluate aspects such as how much alcohol is sold and if there were any incidents that should not have occurred to determine if continuing the sale of drinks is worth continuing in the future of UCO Athletics, Brannick said.