Sports

Beer and wine sales are now possible at college stadiums and arenas in North Carolina

NC State takes the field before game against Florida State

Watch as coach Dave Doeren leads the NC State football team onto the field before the Wolfpack's game against Florida State at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.
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Watch as coach Dave Doeren leads the NC State football team onto the field before the Wolfpack's game against Florida State at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018.

Let the beer flow and the profits roll in.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Wednesday signed a bill into law that allows legal beer and wine sales at campus sporting events throughout the UNC system.

Last week, House Bill 389 passed the N.C. Senate and House. Now that it has Cooper’s signature, the final step before alcohol sales begin at college stadiums and arenas is for the Board of Trustees from each UNC system school to vote to allow sales throughout their athletic facilities.

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham, in a statement to the News & Observer through spokesman Steve Kirschner, said his school’s board is in favor of beginning sales.

“Since the bill was introduced, we have been having conversations and exploring opportunities related to selling alcohol in our stadiums,” Cunningham said in the statement. “Our Trustees support this effort, and now that the bill has been signed, our game management staff and concession partner will soon make a presentation to me about the different scenarios involved in such sales, and I will consult with University leadership about the best path forward.”

In addition to UNC-Chapel Hill, the new law impacts stadiums and arenas that house NCAA Division I teams at N.C. State, East Carolina, Appalachian State, N.C. Central, N.C. A&T, Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, UNC Greensboro, UNC Asheville and Western Carolina.

Division II schools Elizabeth City State, UNC Pembroke, Winston-Salem State and Fayetteville State will also have the freedom to begin alcohol sales at their stadiums and arenas.

Previously, alcohol sales at N.C. State’s Carter-Finley Stadium and UNC’s Kenan Stadium have been limited to high-end booster club donors.

Wake Forest, a private school, started general sales of beer and wine for football at BB&T Field and basketball at the Joel Coliseum in 2016. Duke, another private school, limits its sale of alcoholic beverages to its high-end booster club seating areas.

The new law gives UNC and N.C. State a chance to join Louisville and Syracuse among ACC schools allowing general alcoholic beverage sales at football and men’s basketball games.

“Permitting the sale of alcohol in college stadiums has become much more prevalent across the country over the last few years, including during NCAA championships and ACC tournaments,” Cunningham said. “We will move forward in a thoughtful and appropriate way, looking at the opportunities from many perspectives.”

At N.C. State, allowing general alcohol sales in the stadium is seen as a way to keep more spectators in their seats after halftime at Carter-Finley Stadium. The facilities long-running policy of allowing fans to leave the stadium at halftime and return means many people return to their tailgates and aren’t prompt about being back inside the stadium for the third quarter.

N.C. State football coach Dave Doeren has never been a fan of that policy, saying it curtails his team’s home-field advantage during the third quarter.

Allowing alcoholic beverages to be sold inside the stadium could cause N.C. State to change its so-called pass-out policy. N.C. State chancellor Randy Woodson will consult with athletic director Boo Corrigan on those matters. N.C. State spokesman Fred Demarest said the school did not have a comment on Wednesday.

Corrigan told the News & Observer for a story published last week that, once the bill became law, the school would “adjust at that point in time and make our decisions on what we’re going to do.”

Doeren said adding in-stadium alcohol sales sounded like a good idea.

“Obviously, it generates revenue for the university and for the program as well, which everybody is in favor of that,” Doeren said.



This is a developing story. Check back for details.

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An Illinois native, Steve Wiseman has covered Duke athletics since 2010 for the Durham Herald-Sun and Raleigh News & Observer. Prior to his arrival in Durham, he worked for newspapers in Columbia and Spartanburg, S.C., Biloxi, Miss., and Charlotte covering beats including the NFL’s Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, University of South Carolina athletics and the S.C. General Assembly.
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