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The Daily Tar Heel

Beer and wine sales now legal at UNC system sporting events

Roy Cooper at Duke game
NC Governor Roy Cooper attends the UNC versus Duke game UNC at the Smith Center on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The Tar Heels defeated Duke 70-79 to become ACC regular season champions.

Time to crack open a cold one.

Gov. Roy Cooper signed a bill into law in July allowing legal beer and wine sales at sporting events throughout the UNC system. Combined with the approval of the UNC Board of Trustees – which took place with an anticipatory vote in the spring – the sale of alcohol at UNC athletic events seems likely.

According to UNC Board of Trustees chairperson Richard Stevens, the board approved the alcohol policy in the spring, a preemptive move contingent on the state's decision. Once Cooper signed the bill into law, the University was ready to begin looking into specifics.

"The next steps will be for the athletic department to have a consultation with the chancellor and others to develop plans for timing details and locations," Stevens said in July. "All that is under review."

Last month, Cunningham discussed possible avenues for alcohol sale at University sporting events. Previously, alcohol sales at Kenan Memorial Stadium were limited to high-end booster club donors.

“Since the bill was introduced, we have been having conversations and exploring opportunities related to selling alcohol in our stadiums,” Cunningham said in a statement to the News & Observer. “Our Trustees support this effort, and now that the bill has been signed, our game management staff and concession partner will soon make a presentation to me about the different scenarios involved in such sales, and I will consult with University leadership about the best path forward.”

“Permitting the sale of alcohol in college stadiums has become much more prevalent across the country over the last few years, including during NCAA championships and ACC tournaments,” Cunningham continued. 

UNC joined a number of other N.C. universities, including N.C. State, East Carolina, and UNC-Charlotte, in approving the sale of beer and wine at athletic events. 

Meanwhile, Appalachian State, UNC Wilmington, N.C. Central, N.C. A&T, UNC Asheville, Fayetteville State, Winston-Salem State, and Elizabeth City State have not yet made a decision. UNC-Pembroke is the only university that has said no to alcohol sales. 

As for private universities in the state, Wake Forest began allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages at men’s basketball and football games in 2016, while Duke does not.

N.C. State head football coach Dave Doeren, for one, has been vocal in his support of alcohol sales in stadiums, telling Yahoo Sports, "We have one of the best gamedays in the country in the first and second quarter. It would be awesome to keep it that way in the third."

One imagines that it would be much of the same in Chapel Hill. Last month, UNC football sold out of season tickets for the first time in over a decade. New head coach Mack Brown has helped bring some much-needed excitement to Tar Heel football; the sale of alcohol will only help keep fans in their seats and energized throughout games.

Brown's squad will kick off the 2019 season on Aug. 31 in Charlotte against South Carolina. Then, the Tar Heels will host their first home game of the year a week later against Miami on Sept. 7.


@DTHSports |

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