VERMILLION — Starting this month, University of South Dakota fans could enjoy a beer or certain other alcoholic beverages at on-campus sporting events.
At its June meeting, the South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR) unanimously approved an expanded alcohol sales policy, beginning with the 2022-2023 school year. The change allows public universities in the state to allow the sale of alcohol in the general admission areas of performing arts and sporting events.
The Regents are meeting today (Tuesday) through Thursday at the Lewis and Clark Lodge west of Yankton, but the agenda does not mention any further action on the new liquor policy.
At the SHU campus in Vermillion, officials are moving forward with increasing alcohol sales this fall, according to athletic director David Herbster.
“In light of this (Regents policy change), USD is working on a plan to allow general admission alcohol sales on campus through its new foodservice provider, Sodexo, beginning this fall. “, he told Press & Dakotan.
“USD and Sodexo are working together to determine the logistics and how best to operationalize the process. Sodexo will hold the alcohol license and be responsible for all alcohol sales.
Due to the timing of Regents’ change, SHU officials waited until after the July 4 holiday to meet about the necessary changes, Herbster said.
“The sports and university management met with Sodexo to discuss logistics and its deployment plan,” he said.
Currently, the SHU allows the sale of alcohol at certain venues, such as lodges and lodges, but not in general admission areas. USD plans to sell alcohol for football, volleyball, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.
For athletics, the policy change will affect the DakotaDome and the Sanford Coyote Sports Center (SCSC).
Some universities in neighboring states have implemented general admission liquor sales, according to the South Dakota Board of Regents.
Nationally, 34 NCAA Division I schools sold alcohol at the start of the 2015 season, with that number more than doubling to 78 at the start of the 2019 season, “a trend that continued over the next three years,” the Regents said in a draft resolution earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the University of Nebraska Board of Regents voted unanimously in February to start a process that would allow the sale of alcohol at sporting events, the South Dakota BOR noted.
SHU officials have reached out to schools that have already made the move, Herbster said.
“We have spoken with some of our peers about their processes. A lot of them have different vendors handling alcohol sales, so their experiences are all different,” he said. “Sodexo has experience selling alcohol on other campuses in across the country, and we appreciate the knowledge they bring as we navigate this transition.
The USD will need to adjust its current locations and procedures for the sale and consumption of alcohol, Herbster said.
“We will need to take our current practice of providing alcohol in premium areas and expand it to the general public,” he said. “We will continuously evaluate the policy and the operation of our processes to ensure accountability and a smooth customer experience.”
The new policy contains restrictions. Events with general admission alcohol sales allowed must have a set start and end time for alcohol purchases. Additionally, alcohol sales should be separated from general concessions and every event should include at least one alcohol-free zone.
Anyone engaged in the sale or service of alcoholic beverages at these events should be trained to recognize false identification, prevent service to minors, identify signs of intoxication, and know how to handle disorderly patrons.
Regents’ new policy gives USD the flexibility to evaluate additional liquor sales opportunities, such as the Dakota Farm Show held each January in the DakotaDome, Herbster said.
Each campus decides the alcohol policy for its facilities. Public universities are not required to introduce or expand alcohol sales.
The establishments of the SDBOR belong to different sports classifications. These classifications may affect the policies and procedures of member schools. Of the six regent schools, SHU and South Dakota State University at Brookings are both NCAA Division I schools.
“As a Division I university, SHU is well positioned to provide a premium sports experience for fans in South Dakota and our region,” Herbster said. “It is important to provide these fans with the same opportunities and amenities that they would find at any other sports venue. The income generated will support the scholarships.
The expanded alcohol sales will only include beer, soda, malt beverages and wine. Cocktails are not part of the change.
The SDBOR changed its alcohol policy in response to a letter from the South Dakota Federation of Students urging the Board of Regents to change the current alcohol policy.
The USD Student Government Association (SGA) has passed a resolution in favor of allowing the sale of alcohol in general admission sections. The USD resolution was passed with 20 votes in favour, none against and two abstentions.
The SHU resolution said the change would extend student participation in events and create a controlled environment, providing a safer drinking environment and culture.
Additionally, the USD resolution noted that an SDBOR task force in 2015 found that the university could earn approximately $120,000 from the sale of alcohol in the DakotaDome.
Although much attention has been paid to athletic competitions, current Regents policy permits alcohol in the performing arts, fundraisers, receptions and a conference or scheduled event at a facility used for performing arts, intercollegiate athletics, events or receptions.
As universities determine their policies and procedures for the coming year, a series of events will remain alcohol-free.
The South Dakota High School Activities Association does not allow the sale of alcohol at SDHSAA events, according to executive director Dan Swartos.
The alcohol-free policy is not limited to events held on college campuses, such as the high school football playoffs at the DakotaDome. SDHSAA also hosts events at other types of venues, such as arenas and golf courses, and alcohol is not permitted during SDHSAA events during these times.
Although work remains, Herbster said the response has been good to the expansion of alcohol sales in general admission areas.
“The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “Fans across the state and region have expressed excitement about taking advantage of additional amenities during their gaming experience, and we anticipate these new offerings will improve game attendance.”
To view the full policy guidelines, visit sdbor.edu.
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