UNCW Board of Trustees discusses alcohol sales at on-campus sporting events

Updated: Jul. 18, 2019 at 3:58 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - UNCW will need to act quickly if it wants to get permission to sell alcoholic beverages in time for the upcoming basketball season.

Judging from a Board of Trustees workshop held Thursday, the university is ready to take the next step.

The board is scheduled to vote Friday morning on allowing Aramark — UNCW's food service partner — to apply for ABC permits.

Miles Lackey, the school’s vice chancellor for business affairs, gave an hour-long presentation on the subject of selling alcohol at games on campus and the trustees who spoke on the issue — including UNCW Chancellor Jose Sartarelli — seemed to be in favor of it.

"We're confident we can do this in a proper way that will enhance the fan experience and make it fun to come to games and generate some positive revenue for the department of athletics," UNCW Director of Athletics Jimmy Bass said.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 389 into law in June allowing the sale of beer and wine at sporting events in stadiums and arenas at North Carolina’s public universities.

Lackey presented data Thursday on the ABC permitting process, safety and risk management, fan experience, financial impact, Aramark's standards and principles and more.

"I think if we're provided adequate time to plan here that we can develop an approach to serving beer and wine that No. 1, ensures the safety of our fans; No. 2 preserves and even enhances the overall game day experience for fans and three, fully covers all associated costs while achieving some financial return," Lackey said. "However, for us to have such a plan ready in time for the basketball season, and for us to have the relevant permits in place to be able to sell at basketball games, it really does require that we get to work now given that the permitting process can be time consuming.

"Accordingly, should there be a desire for us to start that planning in time for basketball season, we would propose that the trustees support a resolution (Friday) which allows us to receive such a permit."

According to data Lackey presented, more than 50 NCAA Division I institutions sold alcohol at football games in 2018. Less than a dozen did so in 2008.

UNCW doesn’t have football and while there isn’t a wealth of data for alcohol sales at other sporting events, Lackey said studies have shown the majority of fans said beer and wine sales did not diminish their game day experience and one study found that 23 percent said it enhanced their athletic outing.

Seahawk men’s basketball coach C.B. McGrath believes beer and wine sales can help the university.

“What ever can draw more revenue," said McGrath. "What ever can get more fan interest. You want to make sure thing’s doing get out of control. Every fan needs to be leary of what they are drinking and how they are acting. Because we have great fans.”

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