By Gianna Holiday
The Appalachian State Board of Trustees unanimously approved a motion allowing the athletics department to pursue beer and wine permits for all its stadiums, which will include Kidd Brewer Stadium as well as the Holmes Center, during a July 25 meeting.
“I appreciate the due diligence on the part of our trustees and university staff to ensure we can meet the needs of our university, continue to positively contribute to the local economy and enhance the already outstanding Mountaineer fan experience,” Chancellor Sheri Everts said in a statement on July 25. “Throughout this review, we have prioritized the safety and security of our university community, and we will continue to do so as we work through the logistics related to implementing alcohol sales at our athletics venues.”
The motion was initially brought forward by the chair of the board’s Athletics Committee, Trustee Mark Ricks.
Ricks came seeking approval for the university “to seek issuance of any permits required by the North Carolina Alcohol Beverage Control Commission to be issued to or on behalf of Appalachian State University for use by Appalachian to allow the sale of alcoholic beverages at all of Appalachian’s athletic stadiums, facilities and arenas.”
Approval by trustees for the university to request alcohol sales permits are required by North Carolina General Statutes §18B-1006(a)(9).
Seeking approval on this decision only recently became possible, however, when Gov. Roy Cooper signed House Bill 389 into law last month on June 26. House Bill 389 allowed all UNC state universities to sell beer and wine at athletic venues on game days.
The Appalachian State Board of Trustees trustees listened to a presentation given App State’s own Athletics Director, Doug Gillin, who was able to speak via teleconference because he was out of town.
In his presentation to the trustees, Gillin further noted how the sale of alcohol at athletics venues of Division I universities are becoming more far more common. The NCAA Executive Council recently approved alcohol sales at NCAA Championship events, and the Southeastern Conference lifted its ban on in-stadium alcohol sales as recent examples.
Gillin’s presentation also demonstrated examples of a number of Appalachian’s neighbors who sell alcohol at athletic events, which includes Marshall University, Middle Tennessee State University, Troy University in addition to the University of Louisiana.
Although alcohol has not been sold within any athletic venues, the university debuted the Rock Garten, a hospitality area outside the north end zone of Kidd Brewer Stadium, which sold limited quantities of alcohol to attendees.
The Rock Garten was met with positive reviews from fans and the university community.
Last month, Gillin also presented information to the trustees’ Athletics Committee that cited studies which showed a reduction in arrests that were alcohol-related. He further noted that permitting the sale of alcohol within these facilities reduced binge drinking by fans outside sporting venues that do not sell alcohol.
His previously cited studies showing a reduction in alcohol-related incidents when the university allows in-stadium alcohol sales.
When asked if App State Athletics could the permitting in place to sell alcohol by the first 2019 home football game on Aug. 31, Gillin stated that is the plan as of right now.
However, there is no immediate guarantee.
The recent motion allowed the university to request permits for the sale of alcohol at venues including Kidd Brewer Stadium, Varsity Gym, baseball’s Jim and Bettie Smith Stadium, softball’s Sywassink/Lloyd Family Stadium, future athletic facilities on the Appalachian 105 property, the Holmes Center and field hockey’s Adcock Stadium.
Ted Mackorell Soccer Complex also would be included; however, the board’s discussion acknowledged additional permissions would be necessary to serve alcohol at this venue because it is a joint venture of the Appalachian State University Foundation, Watauga County and the High Country Soccer Association.
Going forward, a meeting will take place on July 30 with the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Commission where the topic of alcohol permitting at sporting events will be discussed in greater detail.
Senior Associate Athletics Director Jonathan Reeder stated that a majority of other Football Bowl Subdivision public schools in North Carolina have already allowed alcohol permitting for sporting events. These schools include N.C State, East Carolina and Charlotte.
Many of these decisions were also made recently, within the past couple of weeks.
There have been a total of four meetings already with campus constituents where they statistics involving 50 peer institutions who already sell alcohol at athletic venues.
After acquiring all of this information, the Appalachian State University’s Board of Trustees approved a resolution which allowed the university to seek permits to sell alcohol at various athletics facilities.
“We appreciate the trustees’ thoughtful consideration of our review of data and the experiences of peer institutions,” Director of Athletics Doug Gillin said. “Universities across the country have seen both a decrease in alcohol-related incidents and an enhanced fan experience when they provide a controlled environment for alcohol sales. Our game day staff will partner with Campus Dining, the App State police department, local law enforcement and other campus constituents to provide a safe and positive environment for everyone in attendance.”