Southern Miss will sell alcohol during athletic events beginning September 28, according to a press release from director of communications David Cohen. Southern Miss fans ages 21 and older will be able to purchase beer and light wines from different locations within the stadium until the end of the third quarter.
Alcohol sales are being delayed so that concession workers can utilize the month to ensure that proper training and infrastructure is in place to support a continued safe and enjoyable environment for fans, according to the press release.
Southern Miss Director of Athletics Jeremy McClain said Southern Miss is the first school in Mississippi to sell alcohol at football games.
McClain said he believes there is some value to being first. “I don’t want us to be afraid of leading the way,” McClain said. “I think it’s important we are not afraid to step out and say this is what we think is the right step for us.”
McClain said Southern Miss will ease into selling alcohol.
“I think long term it is an annual six figure increase for us,” McClain said. “We may not see that this year, it may be a lesser number this year.”
Along with alcohol, the stadium is offering mobile ordering and reduced concession prices.
“These new initiatives allow us a great opportunity to continue to improve our game-day environment and provide a positive fan-friendly experience,” McClain said. “We are thankful for our partners across the University and in the community who helped make these amenities a reality.”
The extensive training program that is required of staff members allows them to address issues relating to the sale of beer and wine such as recognizing fake IDs, preventing the sale of alcohol to minors and being aware of the signs of intoxication. The sale of beer and wine means the stadium will move to a no re-entry policy.
Second-year graduate student mass communication major Shawn Bertucci said he not only believes that alcohol sales will increase game attendance, but also that the sale of alcohol could potentially promote bad behavior.
“I think it would also help minors get access to alcohol easier,” Bertucci said. “I figure upperclassmen could easily buy them alcohol.”
Senior English major Nancy Claypool said she believes the benefits of alcohol sales outweighs the downsides.
“I do believe alcohol sales will encourage attendance at games,” Claypool said. “Everyone loves beer and football, it only makes sense to combine the two at Southern Miss football games.”
Claypool said people have been going drunk to football games for years and does not think there will be too many problems.
Chief of University Police Department Rusty Keyes said Southern Miss has traditionally offered a fan-friendly and safe environment for its home football games. Public intoxication can result in ejection, citation or arrest.
“In recent years, instances of fights or disorderly conduct have been relatively low in number during football games,” Keyes said. “We expect this will continue in 2019 as Southern Miss is being proactive in its approach to ensuring safety”
Brad Smith, senior associate athletic director for external affairs at Southern Miss, expects the sale of alcohol will boost game attendance.
“The launching of beer and light wine sales should heavily enhance the overall fan experience,” Smith said. “I expect all five of our home games to have an increase in attendance from the community and our student body.”