Could Beer be a Conference Deal-Breaker ?

The big topic on Drew Deener’s sports talk show this morning — What if U of L moves to a new conference whose rules don’t allow beer sales at games?

Would U of L Give Up Beer?

The latest on U of L and conference realignment is that the Cards are standing tall with the remaining Big East members. The ruckus over at the Big 12 seems to have died down after the league replaced its commissioner and the schools there seem to be staying put. But everyone knows U of L could be persuaded to leave the Big East for a more attractive set up in the Big 12, which has a new commissioner who is tight with Tom Jurich.

What would fan reaction be if going to the Yum Center or Papa John’s Stadium meant sneaking in alcohol or, worse, doing without? Isn’t alcohol consumption at those places a big part of the attraction for fans?

Deener pointed out that alcohol sales make up a tiny portion of U of L’s athletic budget, but that’s not the point. Like it or not, drinking is a big part of the U of L game experience. If you don’t believe it, try paying attention next time you go to Rupp Arena, where beer sales are banned by the SEC. It’s less fun.

The NCAA bans all alcohol sales at its championship events, as some U of L baseball fans found out a few years back when the school hosted a regional.

And I know you can’t get a beer in an on-campus SEC arena. The Big East, with many schools located in big cities and playing in civic-owned arenas, has never set any policy on alcohol sales at games hosted by its member institutions.

My Googling of Big 12 and Beer and Alcohol turned up nothing that clearly defines the league’s policy. Deener told me he couldn’t get anything official either. Some schools, especially in the Big Ten and, ironically, at Western Kentucky, sell alcohol only in luxury suites.

I vaguely remember that in 1998, after a UK player was killed in an alcohol-related incident, UK banned advertising for alcohol in its stadium and marketing. So as a Business First reporter, I asked Tom Jurich about it, who was IN NO WAY interested in curtailing alcohol marketing or on-site sales at U of  L.

Maybe it’s not a big deal, but the discussion prompted a two-hour talk radio discussion and dozens of online comments.  And I think the prospect of joining a new league requiring a ban on alcohol sales at games would be a big issue around here.