Tennessee becomes sixth SEC school to sell alcohol at football games

Tennessee fans yell in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, in Knoxville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)
Tennessee fans will now be able to buy alcohol at Neyland Stadium from two hours before kickoff until the end of the third quarter. (AP Photo/Wade Payne)

Days before their football season is set to kick off, the Tennessee Volunteers announced on Friday that they would become the sixth SEC school to sell alcohol at home football games.

Tennessee will not implement the new sales in time for its season opener against Georgia State on Aug. 31, but they will be ready for the Vols' second game on Sept. 7 against BYU.

Alcohol sales will begin when Neyland Stadium’s gates open two hours before kickoff and continue until the end of the third quarter. Beer and wine — plus possibly spiked seltzers — will be sold across the stadium, except near the student section.

This decision comes two days after rival Vanderbilt announced it would sell alcohol to raise money for facility projects. Arkansas, LSU, Missouri and Texas A&M will also join in the SEC's first year allowing alcohol sales.

“I appreciate everyone whose efforts have helped us develop what we believe is a comprehensive and responsible plan for alcohol sales at home football games,” athletic director Phillip Fulmer said, via a press release. “The game day experience at Neyland Stadium is historic and unrivaled, and I'm confident these new concessions options will aid our continued efforts to enhance that experience for Tennessee fans and visitors throughout the stadium.

“We remain committed to providing a safe, positive, and family-friendly atmosphere in our venues and have measures in place to assure that standard is met.”

Tennessee officials got to test run alcohol sales at Thompson-Boling Arena, the school’s basketball stadium, earlier in the month at an Alice Cooper concert, where only two attendees were arrested for public intoxication. Given the size of the event, that’s hardly unexpected.

The school has put in a number of fan-friendly safety precautions to ease the expected uptick in drinking. The stadium will have several complementary tanks of water on the concourse and a designated ride-sharing pickup/drop-off point nearby. Plus any fan who registers as a designated driver will receive a voucher for a free soda or water.

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