Starting with the October 19th home game against Texas A&M, Ole Miss Athletics has announced that fans at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will be able to buy beer. The Rebels have just two home games left after the Texas A&M game (New Mexico State & LSU).
According to the University, beer will also be sold at The Pavilion during the 2019-20 men’s and women’s basketball seasons and will continue into baseball season.
The university’s announcement comes in the wake of the SEC’s decision earlier this summer allowing member institutions to decide whether to offer alcohol concessions during athletic events, a change in policy that has been in effect since the early 1970s.
“The university has been deliberate in our approach to making this change,” said Ole Miss Interim Chancellor Larry Sparks. “We have assessed the relevant issues and focused on an implementation timetable that works best for our university. Maintaining the safety of our patrons and participants and maintaining an atmosphere suitable for families is of utmost importance. We appreciate the support and patience of our fans as we implement this change.”
According to the department, “a variety of domestic and imported beers and spiked seltzers will be available” at dedicated kiosks added to the concourse and at a number of existing concessions locations.
“This is another opportunity to enhance what is already one of the premier gamedays in college football,” said interim athletics director Keith Carter. “I want to thank Chancellor Sparks and the rest of our university administration for their leadership and support during this process. We expect this decision to help reduce incidents associated with overconsumption on gamedays. The athletics department will work hand-in-hand with other campus officials and within the guidelines of the SEC to ensure a safe and responsible environment for all fans.”
In addition to being at least 21-years-old, the following guidelines were released.
- 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.
A list of alcohol-related offenses that will get you kicked out of the stadium was also provided by the University.
- 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.
“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.”
As for the decision to wait until late in the season to begin beer sales, the following explanation was given.
“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.”
On October 19th, Ole Miss will also begin 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.
Southern Miss has also announced that they will sell beer and wine starting on September 28th.