BOONE — Appalachian State’s athletics department is monitoring House Bill 389, which would allow North Carolina public colleges and universities to sell alcohol at athletic venues, but has been researching the possibility, as the bill sits one pen stroke away from becoming law.
However, as Appalachian State Athletic Director Doug Gillin said at the Appalachian State Board of Trustees Athletics Committee meeting June 21, nothing is set in stone yet.
“We don’t have a plan,” Gillin said. “It’s not a law. Everybody is speculating like everybody else as to what it could mean.”
Gillin added that no action on the ASU campus regarding HB389, which passed the North Carolina General Assembly on June 20 and awaits Gov. Roy Cooper’s signature, happens unless the Appalachian State Board of Trustees gives its approval. Gillin gave the committee members of what he called “a synopsis” of what the bill is about and what it might mean to the campus and the athletic department.
“As of right now there are about 50 or more NCAA schools who are doing it and allow it,” Gillin said. “The SEC recently lifted a conference ban. It wasn’t necessarily a university ban, but a conference ban, so some of their schools have looked at it as well.”
Gillin said he and members of the athletic department have been in touch with other universities outside of North Carolina that allow alcohol sales.
He also showed a slide to the athletics committee that showed that there are five locations at Kidd Brewer Stadium being looked at as places where alcohol may be sold. There were two on the west concourse, two on the east concourse and one adjacent to the video board on the south side of the stadium.
Each person who wanted to purchase alcohol would undergo age verification to prove they are at least 21 years old and each patron would receive a wristband to help show those selling alcohol that they are of age.
Also under consideration would be a limit per transaction and alcohol sales cutoff, which would be a predetermined time. Gillin said a lot of training and a lot of staffing would have to be done before any alcohol would be sold.
“None of this has been decided,” Gillin said. “We really haven’t taken a deep dive into all of that until this really becomes a reality. If it becomes a reality, we would have a lot of work to do.”
Gillin feels that the potential to curb binge drinking before the game could be realized if controlled alcohol sales during the game took place. He feels it can actually make the stadiums safer if the consumption of alcoholic beverages inside the venue could be more closely monitored than drinking that is done while tailgating before the game.
“There is some data that shows that we can actually reduce incidents than increase them,” Gillin said.
Alcohol is already served at athletic events on a limited basis. There was a beer garden just outside Kidd Brewer in 2018 and alcohol is sold and allowed in the club level of the stadium. Beer has been sold in the Yosef Club’s “3,333 Club” at the Holmes Center for several years. This past spring, the athletics department experimented with selling beer in an area at Smith Stadium during ASU baseball games.
Local breweries such as Appalachian Mountain Brewery and Booneshine have their craft beers available at each of those ASU athletic events.
Gillin told the committee that a waiver is required for each site to sell alcohol.
Gillin also said he did not know the economic impact that alcohol sales would make on the athletic department.
“Should we decide to do this, it wouldn’t be because it’s going to make us a lot of money,” Gillin said. “We don’t really know.”