So Ole Miss is going to sell beer at football games soon. Here’s what you need to know.

Published 3:07 pm Friday, August 30, 2019

Ole Miss Athletics announced Friday it will soon allow the sale of beer in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the final three home football games of the 2019 season, starting October 19 for the game against Texas A&M.

Beer will also be sold at The Pavilion at Ole Miss during the 2019-20 men’s and women’s basketball seasons and will continue into baseball season.

“We expect in-stadium sales to reduce the temptation for binge drinking during pregame or sneaking in alcoholic beverages,” said Ray Hawkins, chief of the University Police Department. “This sales plan should lead to more responsible consumption and reduce negative behavior in the stands.”

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The university’s decision to wait until October 19 was prompted by several considerations, including:

  • The need to promote responsible behavior and consumption inside athletics venues,
  • The need to assess and fulfill incremental staffing needs,
  • The desire to allow time to consider any implications for the campus community and internal policies and processes, and
  • The ability to learn from other schools’ experience with in-venue sales during the upcoming football season.

In addition, Ole Miss Athletics will begin with the Texas A&M game to offer limited beer sales before each football game inside the Coca-Cola Rebel Fan Fest on the plaza between Vaught-Hemingway Stadium and The Pavilion at Ole Miss. The Fan Fest area will be cordoned off from the rest of the plaza and will open three hours prior to kickoff and close at kickoff.

In 2016, the NCAA began selling beer and wine at the NCAA Baseball and Softball College World Series. Sales were expanded to the Division I Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships earlier this year. The College Football Playoff games also offer alcohol sales within the venues that host those contests each year.

Ole Miss Athletics Alcohol Sales Policy

  • All guests must be 21 years of age to purchase alcoholic beverages. A valid ID is required for purchase.
  • A limit of two beers may be purchased at one time per legal ID.
  • Sales will begin when the venue gates/doors open (two hours prior to kickoff for football).
  • Per SEC requirements, sales will end when the game clock has expired at the conclusion of the third quarter.
  • A security officer or Centerplate staff member will begin to close the line with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, and only the guests that were already standing in line will be able to purchase beer.

Frequently Asked Questions from Ole Miss Athletics

Why not sell alcohol from the first home game?  
We need to be deliberate in making this change and assess all relevant issues, including security needs, staffing implications, operational considerations, policy revisions and education of our student body and our fan base. Rather than implementing this quickly, we are focused on getting it right and on a timetable that is right for Ole Miss.

Where can I purchase beer inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium?
In addition to dedicated kiosks added to the concourse, a number of existing concessions locations will also offer beer. Some concession stands will not sell beer, offering fans the choice of purchasing from an alcohol-free location.

Will alcohol be sold in the student section? 
We will not sell in the three concession stands located under the student section.

Can I purchase beer through vendors in seating sections of the stadium?
The SEC requires that alcoholic beverages can be sold and dispensed only at designated stationary locations within athletics venues. Alcoholic beverages may not be sold by vendors within the seating areas.

What kinds of alcoholic beverages will be sold?  
A variety of domestic and imported beers and spiked seltzers will be available.

Will I have to show my ID every time I purchase alcohol?
Yes. Identification checks are required at every point of sale to prevent sales to minors.

How many alcoholic beverages may I purchase each visit?
A limit of two beers can be purchased at one time per legal ID.

Will alcohol be available throughout the entire game to purchase?
Per conference requirements, sales will end when time expires at the end of the third quarter. A security officer or Centerplate staff member will begin to close the line with three minutes remaining in the third quarter, and only the guests already standing in line at that time will be able to purchase alcohol.

Will there be additional law enforcement or security staff in the stadium?  
We will assess those needs continually and will make adjustments as needed.

Who will be serving alcohol?
Ole Miss’ concessions partner, Centerplate, will handle beer distribution. Centerplate certifies all employees in a nationally-recognized training program and adheres strict company standards that also align with SEC policy. This includes training for all management and line-level servers in ServSafe, TIPS alcohol service and HAACP plans, as well as other quality assurance. Ole Miss and Centerplate will ensure that the appropriate measures for responsible alcohol safety are followed.

How will Ole Miss Athletics handle unruly fans this fall at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium?
Stadium personnel and law enforcement will monitor fan behavior and ejection without refund, arrest or refusal of sale or consumption of alcohol could result for reasons including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Giving alcoholic beverages to a minor.
  • Public intoxication or impairment.
  • Throwing of any objects.
  • Failure to follow stadium and/or law enforcement personnel instruction.
  • Any other conduct deemed inappropriate by stadium personnel or law enforcement.

As has been the case for many years, fans are also encouraged to report any violation of this policy or any unruly behavior by notifying stadium or law enforcement personnel or by texting “REBS” to 69050 with the issue and location.

Will there be any alcohol awareness educational programming implemented to support this launch?
A portion of revenue generated from alcohol sales will be used to support prevention and education programming on campus related to alcohol use.

Will alcohol sales be available at other sports venues on campus?
Yes, including basketball and baseball games. Details for other venues will be announced in the future.

SEC Game Management Policy on Alcohol (adopted May 31, 2019; effective August 1, 2019):

Each institution is permitted to determine the permissibility of selling alcoholic beverages in athletics venues and shall establish a policy governing the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages in its athletics facilities.

Institutions that offer alcohol sales in public areas must incorporate Conference-wide alcohol management expectations, which include:

  • 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; and
  • 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); and
    • Other Sports (At a designated time, no later than when 75 percent of the event’s regulation length competition is scheduled to be completed).

Each year, the Conference membership shall review this policy to determine institutional compliance with established expectations and evaluate fan conduct and alcohol-related incidents for the purpose of determining the need to revise the Conference’s alcohol policy.
Implementation of these management expectations does not include suites, clubs or private leased areas.

Each institution shall establish a policy for the admission of outside food and beverage into its facilities.

As with all areas of the stadium, maintaining the safety of patrons and participants and maintaining an atmosphere suitable for families is of utmost importance.

Advertising displays mentioning or promoting alcoholic beverages shall not be permitted in any playing facility with the exception of common point-of-sale signage.