Alcohol Comes to Basketball This Season

Students cheer on the Hogs during the Western Kentucky game Nov. 9.

Following a $705,323 profit from alcohol sales during the football season, Razorback officials have begun selling alcohol at basketball games after SEC officials revised a policy May 31 to allow conference members the choice to sell alcohol at athletic event venues. 

Razorback officials hope to expand sales to baseball games after they began selling alcohol at basketball games the weekend of Nov. 15. The revenue from alcohol sales will go into the general budget for Razorback Athletics, which can be used in multiple areas like student-athlete scholarships, operation, coaches and staff, said Rick Thorpe Jr., deputy athletic director of external engagement. 

The policy sets a two-drink limit per individual per transaction, and each location will check identification when selling beverages. Draft beer will be sold for $7, and craft beer and wine will sell for an average of $9.

10% of the sales will go to Student Affairs to use at the officials’ discretion, said Kevin Trainor, the chief public relations officer for Razorback Athletics. Officials focused on their plan for alcohol sales in the Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, so they transitioned the equipment, such as coolers, to Bud Walton Arena after the first few basketball games.

Once the first year of alcohol sales has passed, depending on the sales, officials will expand to a more permanent set-up in athletic venues, Thorpe said.

Groups including Student Affairs, Associated Student Government and Razorbacks Offering Accountability Resources were involved in deciding to sell alcohol, Thorpe said. 

Alcohol is not allowed in the student section, but those who are 21 or older can purchase and drink beer or wine in other areas of the stadium, Thorpe said. 

The main concern about selling alcohol was safety, Thorpe said. He researched successful programs at other universities, including Ohio State University, West Virginia University, Purdue University and Oklahoma State University and found that when managed properly, alcohol-related incidents decrease. 

“It doesn’t mean they’re eliminated by any stretch of the imagination,” Thorpe said. “It certainly continues to be a concern, but Arkansas fans were purchasing alcohol in our facilities already and doing so responsibly.”

During the six home games in the 2019 season, there was an average of 4.5 alcohol-related incidents each game day, including minors in possession, driving while intoxicated and public intoxication, according to the UA Police Department Daily Crime Log. 

During the 2018 season, there was an average of 5 alcohol-related incidents each home game day, and in the 2017 season, there was an average of 3.6, according to the UAPD Daily Crime Log.

Crain said he was not more concerned about safety after alcohol started being sold. He thinks issues related to alcohol were isolated and could be affected by attendance or by earlier game times.

Tegan Shockley is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where she has been a staff reporter since 2017.

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