Allow drinking at Florida-Georgia game?

SEC looking at alcohol sales at off-campus games

Author: Jim Piggott, General assignment reporter, jpiggott@wjxt.com
Published On: Mar 07 2014 03:50:02 PM EST   Updated On: Mar 07 2014 06:40:00 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

For decades, the Florida-Georgia game was labeled "the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party."

Efforts to tone down the drinking and partying before and after the game have changed its look. But now there is a chance drinking inside the stadium during the college football game will be allowed.

The Southeastern Conference confirmed to Channel 4 on Friday that it will take a look at the ban on drinking at off-campus stadiums and neutral site games, like the Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville.

"The league's alcohol policy will be reviewed to better define which games the policy applies to," Herb Vincent, the SEC's associate commissioner, said in a statement. "In other words, the policy currently does not define well how neutral site games and games played away from campus should be addressed."

Alcohol-related problems before, during and after the annual border rivalry have drawn national attention in the past. Fights are common, and in a 2012 case, a man was pulled unconscious from a retention pond after he got into a fight with someone else during the game celebrations.

Since 2009, the city began a major crackdown of drinking at the request of officials from both schools or face the fact that the game would be moved from the River City.

"We will wait on the SEC leadership," city spokesman David DeCamp said of the possibility of selling alcohol at the game. "Once that decision is made, we will consult the athletic director and administration at Florida and Georgia to consider their interest and move forward based on their agreement."

Some fans Friday said they don't see a problem.

"I don't think it would be any worse," Charlie Grabill said. "It may even cut down because you won't have to drink before the game so much."

There may be some truth to that because published reports show binge drinking occurs more outside a stadium when drinking is not allowed inside, and that sometimes drops off when drinking is allowed inside.

Money from alcohol sales is also a factor, but the city said it has to look at other factors.

"We will work with everyone involved, but we will continue to make sure we have a safe game there," DeCamp said. "So we take into account safety interests."

The athletic departments for both schools said they're aware of the measure but so far have not commented.

If the SEC board agrees to allowing alcohol sales, each school and the city would have to OK it.