Gov. Lee signs bill allowing alcohol sales at public university, college athletic stadiums

Tennessee state lawmakers are trying to level the playing field when it comes to selling alcohol in some university venues. Cracking a beer at McKenzie Arena could soon be a reality thanks to a House vote in Nashville Thursday. (Image: WTVC)

UPDATE:

You may soon be able to enjoy a beer at your favorite college team's game.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed Senate Bill 598 on Monday that will give stadiums and arenas of public universities the choice to sell alcohol.

That includes McKenzie Arena.

The new bill would impact around 50 colleges and universities across the state.

The conference the school plays under would have to sign off on it.

A spokesperson for UTC says the university would support alcohol sales at McKenzie Arena.

But they're still deciding how they'll handle Mocs events.

Read more about the bill, and hear from students at the link below.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Tennessee state lawmakers are trying to level the playing field when it comes to selling alcohol in some university venues.

Cracking a beer at McKenzie Arena could soon be a reality thanks to a House vote in Nashville Thursday.

The bill, which is now awaiting Gov. Bill Lee's signature, would give a new designation to stadiums and arenas of public universities, and give them the choice to sell alcohol.

Chattanooga’s Finley Stadium is already allowed to sell alcohol because it’s not on university property, and is operated by a non-profit.

"This bill levels the playing field for public institutions," says bill sponsor Sen. Becky Massey.

One UTC sophomore, Tatum Reaves, says it could be good for the school. "I think it could bring in a lot more people," says Tatum.

UTC junior Brandon Galvreth says there's also going to be a downside - "I also think that it could potentially bring in a lot more problems," says Brandon. "I think you'll see an uptick in some misdemeanors. Probably nothing too bad."

The new bill would impact around 50 colleges and universities, not only giving the university the option to sell alcohol in private box seats, but also allowing general admission ticket holders to purchase it. The conference the school plays under would have to sign off.

"Alcohol sales spike especially during sports games," says Brandon.

Money is a big factor in this move. Some schools like University of Texas Austin brought in over $3.3 million last fall from stadium alcohol sales, growing their profits more than 70 percent over the previous year.

One spokesperson for UTC said that the university would support alcohol sales at McKenzie Arena, but they're still deciding how they'll handle Mocs events and the possibility of adult beverages.

As far as the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, the SEC prohibits alcohol being sold in general admission areas.

Chattanooga Visitor's Bureau CEO Barry White told us today “This would open up opportunities for UTC and the community to host a wider variety of events.”

Depend on us to keep you posted.

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