One topic of discussion during the Southeastern Conference meetings this week in Florida was the sale of alcohol to the general population at sporting events. At SEC-member Georgia, at least for the time being, sales will be restricted.
According to the Associated Press, Georgia will sell beer and wine only to patrons in one section of the club level of Sanford Stadium during the 2019 season. Members of the Magill Society, UGA's primary athletics fundraising arm, have access to this seating section if they've donated a minimum of $25,000.
“We have an area that we’re going to utilize, that we’re going to cordon off and create an area for members of the Magill Society to have limited beer-and-wine sales this year,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It’s available to a certain level of donors, but it’s not accessible to fans in general seating areas. We’re permitted to do it under the current rules as it stands now. We’re just doing it as a benefit to our donors.”
According to the Journal-Constitution, SEC schools long have provided alcohol for patrons in controlled-access areas reserved for donors and their guests. But as college football battles lagging attendance at games, there is increasing discussion about offering alcohol sales inside stadium for all fans of legal age.
A conference-wide vote regarding stadium alcohol sales could come as early as today, as the SEC meetings are set to adjourn. “The SEC has had a committee working on this for a while,” McGarity said. “There will be a report provided to the presidents, and that committee will make recommendations. It will be up to the institutions to vote it up or down.”
To date, Georgia has handled alcohol like the rest of the SEC — distributing it only in premium-seating areas and without charge. At Samford Stadium, that has meant the privately owned SkySuites atop the south side of the stadium and, as of last year, in the newly founded East End Club. Those seats, located behind the hedges in the East End Zone, also require a special donor access. The Bulldogs’ old locker room underneath the East grandstand was converted into a lounge where alcohol and food is provided without charge.