Committee hears proposal for alcohol sales at select Athletics events

HERSHEY, Pa -- A proposal by Intercollegiate Athletics to make alcohol available in a limited capacity at specific events on campus was heard in an informational session today (Feb. 25), during a regular meeting of the Penn State Board of Trustees Committee on Legal and Compliance. The full board is expected to take up the issue at its meeting in May.

Intercollegiate Athletics (ICA) is seeking permission for alcohol sales at ICA events only and in private, controllable spaces, such as suites and club seats, as well as reception areas. The service of alcohol is not being considered for general seating areas, including student sections, during ICA events. 

Additionally, the proposal seeks permission for alcoholic beverage sales throughout athletic facilities hosting non-ICA events, such as concerts and professional sporting events, due to the unique nature of the events. The proposal also includes the Penn State Golf Courses. If the proposal is approved, officials said alcohol sales to the general public will be limited to beer and wine, under tightly regulated conditions.

“For attracting top performing acts to our venues and in hosting major sporting events beyond the college level, it is common practice to permit the sale of alcohol. Our venues are at a disadvantage in gaining the sign on of such attractions, and it is possible to have alcohol served in a safe and responsible manner,” said David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business.

“In the private areas of our Athletics venues, such as the suites, there is a request for alcohol service and, in benchmarking against other facilities across the country we have seen that controlling the service with trained personnel is key to responsible sale and consumption. The plan is to have certified servers in these areas who also are trained in intervention.”

Should the full board approve the proposal, implementation would not occur immediately because of infrastructure considerations in all ICA facilities that would be under review for potential sales and distribution. In spring 2015, Penn State undertook a structured pilot program during the appearance of singer Garth Brooks to serve beer and wine at the Bryce Jordan Center. There were stringent security measures and certified training in the service and sale of alcohol and a per-person drink limit. The multiple shows that Brooks performed at the BJC resulted in fewer police incidents than other similar acts where alcohol was not served.

Last Updated February 26, 2016