East Carolina University’s Board of Trustees (BOT) convened on Friday in the Main Campus Student Center Ballroom A for a regularly scheduled meeting, and before moving into closed session, the fully-present board voted unanimously to approve the sale of alcohol at athletic events.
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the bill to allow the sale of alcohol at University of North Carolina (UNC) System schools on June 26, which then left the final decision up to each individual institution’s Board of Trustees to vote on the matter. The ECU Board of Trustees is not the first university to approve the sale of beer and wine.
The discussion regarding the sale of alcohol at athletic events was written in the BOT meeting agenda, and the vote was preceded with an introduction from ECU Athletics Director Jon Gilbert and a powerpoint presentation from J.J. McLamb, ECU’s senior associate Athletics Director/Internal Operations.
“Once the governor signed this legislation we began conservative conversations with student affairs, our legal department, our police department and our vendor, Aramark,” Gilbert said at the meeting. “Athletics views this opportunity two-fold. We think that it will enhance our game day experience for those that chose to partake in that endeavor, and we also think that it will create additional revenue.”
Gilbert said the ECU Athletics department aims to maintain a “fan-friendly” environment at each athletic venue. He said McLamb had been the coordinator for the proposal on behalf of ECU Athletics.
During his powerpoint presentation, McLamb said the bill allows for both beer and wine to be sold at all athletic events and venues, and it additionally allows for it to be sold 500 feet outside of the facilities.
McLamb said he believes, based on trends seen at various universities across the country who have implemented the practice and succeeded, ECU may see a decrease in alcohol-related incidents inside the stadium.
“We are asking permission for all of all facilities to be included in this,” McLamb said. “But this is what our next steps are that we really want to concentrate on. As fall of ‘19, we want to be prepared to sell in Dowdy-Ficklen stadium for football, Minges Coliseum for men’s and women's basketball and then in the spring when baseball season starts to be prepared to start at Clark-Leclair stadium.”
McLamb said as ECU Athletics moves through this process the plan is to implement the ability to sell beer and wine at all athletic events, however, for the upcoming fall and spring semesters, the focus is only on four sports.
According to McLamb, ECU Athletics has had several meetings with both the ECU Police Department (ECU PD) and Greenville Police Department (GPD), Pitt County ABC and North Carolina Highway Patrol about the plan to sell alcohol at athletic events.
McLamb said there will be a focus on “responsible consumption” at athletic events, which will include signs around the venues and a drink responsibly campaign. He said the operational plan is still under discussion, however, ECU Athletics will allow the sale of beer and wine two hours prior to events and sales will go through the end of the third quarter during football season.
“You will see some additional security in our zones that we have alcohol. You’ll see some additional security at the gates coming in to eliminate outside alcohol coming in,” McLamb said. “We will also be monitoring in the stands as well, and another addition that we’ve done working with our campus IT, we are installing some new security cameras over the point of sales.”
There will be a total of 48 points of sale in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, two of which will be within the 500-foot radius outside the venue, according to McLamb.
Additionally, a promotion with Uber, Lyft and local taxi services is being looked at to provide a dropoff/pickup zone during game days.
“Now, as part of our responsible education, we want to have that close to the stadium so they can come up and get their ride home if they (attendees) need it.”
Student Government Association President, Colin Johnson, addressed concerns about the plan following the presentation. He said the sale of alcohol in stadiums presents a safety risk for students and asked for a report to be given after football season.
Interim Chancellor Dan Gerlach plans to implement a task force to manage and follow up on the sale of alcohol at ECU athletic events throughout the year.
“I would, to go about this, we’re going to have a task force of people from across the campus to address these concerns, not only about making money, hopefully it’ll be 75 (degrees) and sunny all the time not 40 (degrees) and rain, so we can sell ourselves some beer and do so responsibly, so we can not jeopardize that.”
Gerlach said the university will not jeopardize the safety of the students or the fan experience with the implementation of beer and wine sales in ECU facilities. He said his intent is to form and direct the task force to ensure ECU will be able to sell alcohol come the first Pirate football game of the season.