Winston-Salem State will not be selling beer at its five regular-season football games at Bowman Gray Stadium this season.
According to George Knox, the interim athletics director at WSSU, there are too many things that need to happen in order to make it happen.
A state law enacted in late June gave schools within the UNC system the OK to sell beer and wine at athletic facilities.
Ben Rowe, the assistant city manager of Winston-Salem, said he was told earlier this week that WSSU would not be selling alcohol at city-owned Bowman Gray Stadium. WSSU leases the stadium from the city; the lease runs through 2037.
“I met with the vice chancellor (Constance Mallette) and she informed us that Winston-Salem State has decided to not sell beer and wine at their home games,” Rowe said.
Through a spokesman, Dr. Elwood Robinson, the chancellor of WSSU, said: “WSSU will not pursue alcohol sales at games this season, and alcohol sales will not be on the agenda at the upcoming board of trustees meetings (in mid-September). As a university, we want to make sure a full risk assessment is taken before considering alcohol sales at athletic events.”
There also will not be alcohol sales at the Gaines Center, the school’s 3,000-seat, on-campus arena, for basketball games.
Knox said there are several reasons not to sell alcohol at games, but he cited logistics as the biggest factor.
“It’s something we will take a look at maybe for next season,” Knox said. “We’ve got a lot of hurdles to jump with the city-owned stadium, and we would have to get approval of our executive staff and our board of trustees before we could sell it at our home games.”
Rowe also said that as part of the lease agreement, WSSU doesn’t get any of the concession revenue.
“The way we work it in regards to our lease, the concessionaires who sell their products get 70% of the profits and the city gets 30%,” Rowe said.
Knox confirmed that WSSU doesn’t receive any revenue from concession sales. The school and the city split the parking revenue.
According to Rowe, racing at Bowman Gray Stadium, which takes place in the summer on Saturday nights, has had a beer garden for the past several years. He said it would be a challenge to find another spot for the beer garden for football games.
“We would have to find another place in the stadium if (WSSU) ever decided to have some sort of beer garden like there is for racing,” Rowe said.
WSSU will travel to UNC Pembroke on Sept. 5 for its season opener. UNC Pembroke will not be selling beer and wine at its games. WSSU will play its home opener on Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. against Catawba.
Todd Anderson, an associate athletics director for communications at UNC Pembroke, said it’s never been on the school’s radar. In April, Don Metzger, the UNC Pembroke board of trustees chairman, told The Robesonian newspaper that the school would not be selling beer and wine at football games.
“While we respect the intent of our sister institutions and support their efforts, we believe allowing open alcohol sales at our athletic events could potentially send the wrong message to our community,” Metzger said in a statement to the newspaper.
Fayetteville State, another state-supported school, hasn’t decided if it will sell beer and wine at its stadium. The Broncos opener is Sept. 7 against Benedict at Luther Nick Jeralds Stadium.
“FSU hasn’t decided what we are going to do this year,” said Todd Bennett, the athletics director at Fayetteville State. “We are in no rush to make a decision.”