Michigan lawmakers push for alcohol sales at Big Ten sporting arenas

Michigan reps. push for public safety, boosting revenue

Several Michigan representatives are leading an effort to allow alcohol sales at college sport venues throughout the state.

During the summer of 2022, Rep. Graham Filler (R-Clinton County), Rep. Joe Tate (D-Detroit), and Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) presented a plan in July which would allow a lift on Michigan’s alcohol ban at on-campus events and allow university governing boards to apply for their liquor licenses.

Out of 14 schools that are in the Big Ten, eight allow alcohol sales at football games, and officials say that they have seen positive results with the number of decreased alcohol-related incidents. Ohio State University police reported that alcohol-related incidents inside their sports venues dropped 65%.

Virginia Tech, part of NCAA Atlantic Coast Conference Football, started selling beer in the summer of 2021 after only allowing beer in selected premium seating areas. A year later, the Fightin’ Hokie Lager was awarded a silver medal at an international beer competition.

Virginia Tech teams up with Hardywood for new Hokie beer (WSLS)

The University of Iowa reported that the school made $3 million in revenue from alcohol sales at sporting events during the 2021-2022 school year with its pilot program to expand beer and wine sales at UI athletic facilities.

In 2019, the University of Minnesota approved if beer and wine sales at selected sporting arenas for Gopher games. During the same year, the University of Indiana rolled out a pilot program of selling beer and wine during their football games. The stadium home of the Hoosiers allowed for alcohol sales until the end of the third quarter and only two drinks per transaction.

One of the latest Big Ten universities to jump on the alcohol sales at sporting events bandwagon is Penn State. According to Sports Illustrated, this past fall was the first time in the school’s history to have alcohol available to the general public at Beaver Stadium.

“Giving universities the option to serve alcohol at their sporting events is about freedom, fairness, and recognizing that the responsible consumption of alcohol inside the stadium is much safer than the binge drinking that goes on in the parking lot,” said Filler. “Multiple examples exist that show alcohol-related incidents inside stadiums declining after alcohol sales are allowed.”

Two bills, House Bill 4328 and Senate Bill 247, state that the Michigan Liquor Control Commission can issue up to three tavern licenses or three Class C liquor licenses to be used at events in university football, basketball, and hockey stadiums. Under a tavern license and a Class C liquor license, an educational facility can sell retail beer, wine and mixed spirit drink products on the public premises. The sales under these licenses can be permitted one hour before each game.

Celebrate the return of college football with Sparti Parti and Haze & Blue. (Photo: Big Lake Brewing)

“These bills will help create parity and fairness with other states that currently allow alcohol to be served to patrons in college sporting venues,” McCann said in a statement. “There is no good reason for this option to be available only for people watching the games in suites and no one else. Furthermore, there is strong evidence that points to these policies helping to reduce binge drinking on game days.”

The House Bill and Senate Bill comes after a similar effort led by multiple representatives, which officials say that the plan did not get brought up to be voted on before the end of the most recent legislative term.

State Rep. Jimmie Wilson Jr. (D-Ypsilanti) showed his support with the following statement:

“We have seen that when you regulate things in a more controlled way, in this case, alcohol, you have better public safety outcomes. This legislation shows that we can work together in a bipartisan effort to enhance public safety in a more regulated manner, while still promoting fairness and freedom.”

Previous coverage: Michigan lawmakers introduce plan to allow alcohol sales at college football, basketball, and hockey games

You can read the Michigan House Bill No. 4328 below: