Alcohol sales could lead to messy results at SEC stadiums

According to the wine and beer website Vinepair, as of the 2015 season, 34 stadiums that host college football allowed the sale of alcohol during games.

A general view of a Florida Gators flag before the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

A general view of a Florida Gators flag before the game against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 7, 2015 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

The University of Florida wants to make it 35.

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley announced Wednesday that starting in the 2016 season, alcohol will be sold at football and basketball games in select areas.

“Providing alcohol in our premium seating areas for both football and men’s basketball was another amenity we wanted to provide to the fans in those areas,” Foley said.

(Florida Gators 2016 spring practice preview: Offensive line)

The Swamp is about to get wetter … and that’s not a good thing.

Sure, adult beverages will only be available to approximately 5,000 fans – or 7.5 percent of a capacity crowd at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, according to the Orlando Sentinel — but this new policy will not be a boondoggle. Expect alcohol sales to be highly profitable and a testing of the waters for an expanded target audience.

The SEC does not allow the sale of alcohol to the general public at games, but Florida will become the sixth conference school to offer overpriced drinks to premium seat-holders. While stadium cleanup crews will get the whiff of stale beer after games, the university will only smell profit margins.

With money comes the desire for more money … said everyone in the SEC.

According to a January Houston Chronicle article, the University of Texas brought in $1.8 million in alcohol sales during the 2015 football season. Once Florida gets a small taste of the cool cash that alcohol sales bring in at just the premium seating level, how will the school not want more? Everything may be bigger in Texas, but the Gators sure would like a piece of that $1.8 million pie.

SEC schools are not good at seeing outsiders profit without being able to partake themselves – just ask Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh.

The more SEC schools that sell alcohol on a limited basis at games, the more conference members will want in. And then, once the majority of the conference is making money in this manner, the schools will push to lift the ban on alcohol sales to the general public.

It will happen … SEC schools tend to get what they want.

Here’s the problem: Alcohol makes people stupid. Maybe not everyone, but all any of these schools need is to give student-body members (the ones of legal age, of course) permission to get wild and crazy.

Naiveté aside, college kids have been sneaking alcohol into football games since the days of leather helmets. There’s even a retail aftermarket for apparel to help folks slide by campus and stadium security. But at least they’re having to work to smuggle in their goods, and their stash will always be limited to how much they can hide.

Opening sales to the general public at campus sporting events takes away the limitation of supply, and something bad will eventually happen when crowds of nearly 100,000 fans are given access to adult beverages.

The risk greatly outweighs the financial reward. If universities want to make an extra million or two per year, raise tuition or gouge some conglomerate for extra media rights. Heck, add a buck or two to the parking fees at games.

But let’s not put the SEC’s student bodies at risk by allowing them to purchase alcohol at football games. It’s just not worth the potential tragedies that will accompany this decision.