Alabama athletics, AD Greg Byrne re-open door for alcohol sales at events
Alabama athletics is going to reconsider alcohol sales at events, UA Athletics Director Greg Byrne said in a statement shared Wednesday with The Tuscaloosa News.
It's an important step if alcohol sales for the general public are going to be considered for sporting events at Bryant-Denny Stadium, Coleman Coliseum and elsewhere this upcoming school year.
On Wednesday, the university announced it had worked out a deal with the city of Tuscaloosa to lift the proposed service fee for events selling alcohol that was announced in February. In response to the fee, Byrne originally said UA would not be moving forward with alcohol sales.
“We appreciate our partnerships, especially with the City, and the efforts of all the public safety personnel and first responders who work in and around our venues," Byrne said Wednesday. "With the recent expanded collaboration between The University of Alabama and City of Tuscaloosa we will continue our due diligence and revisit the opportunity for alcohol sales at select athletics events with our University leadership.”
The SEC lifted its ban in 2019 on alcohol sales at all on-campus stadiums in public seating. The conference left the decision up to the schools whether they decided to sell alcohol or not.
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It appeared that Coleman Coliseum would be the first venue to sell alcohol to the general public during this past basketball season when Alabama's concessionaire, Levy Premium Foodservice LP, submitted an application to the city council for a liquor license for the sale of alcoholic beverages at the arena.
"It's something a lot of our fans have been asking for," Byrne told The Tuscaloosa News in January. "We've been able to watch the other schools and the reporting we have gotten back from other schools is that alcohol incidents at their games actually go down once they sell because it's a much more controlled environment."
To offset the public safety demands associated with the addition of alcohol at large-scale events, the Tuscaloosa City Council imposed a service fees for all ticketed events of at least 1,000 where alcohol is sold – including Coleman Coliseum.
That disappeared Wednesday.
“The University of Alabama is not only our region’s largest employer and economic driver, they are partners when it comes to ensuring that Tuscaloosa is safe,” said Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. “The incredible growth of UA is phenomenal for our community, and this agreement will ensure that we continue to offer the best and safest experiences in the nation.”
The deal UA struck to get service fee removed
Starting in 2024, the agreement calls for UA to contribute $250,000 to City Hall by Jan. 31 of each year through 2028.
These funds are meant to offset the costs associated with Tuscaloosa police and Fire Rescue services provided by the city “in conjunction with large University events,” the agreement said.
While the annual total will be reviewed in 2027 by both the city and UA, the agreement also includes the University’s direction of dollars toward scholarships for sworn Tuscaloosa police officers and firefighters as well as their children.
The Sworn Officer Scholarship Program will offer approximately 50 scholarships at any one time, with a value of up to $2,500 each academic year, to those police officers, firefighters or children who qualify.
For students enrolled full time this value can be up to $10,000 over four years, the agreement said.
Nick Kelly covers Alabama football and men's basketball for The Tuscaloosa News, part of the USA TODAY Network. Reach him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter: @_NickKelly