ETSU could allow alcohol at sporting events under new state law

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Universities across Tennessee can now sell alcohol in their sports facilities, including East Tennessee State University. 

That’s following a change in state law, signed by Gov. Bill Lee Monday, that took effect immediately. 

The law allows beer and wine sales at state-run higher education facilities used for sporting events unless it’s prohibited by the school’s conference. 

For example, the University of Tennessee plays in the Southeastern Conference, which has its own ban on alcohol consumption at games. Alcohol will still be off limits at Vols home games but those same venues will now be able to sell it during private events, like concerts. 

ETSU competes in the Southern Conference, which has no such ban, according to Geoff Cabe, SoCon Senior Associate Commissioner. 

That means ETSU leadership will make the final call on allowing alcohol. 

“What’s changed is that we now have the option if this was an avenue that we wanted to pursue,” said ETSU Spokesman Joe Smith. 

Smith said the move still requires approval from the Board of Trustees and its too early to determine if and when this new policy could be implemented. 

If approved, he said it would impact alcohol sales at their football and baseball stadiums. 

He said their basketball team plays at Freedom Hall, which is not owned by ETSU. 

Freedom Hall Director Lisa Chamness said there have been no discussions at this point about changing their no alcohol policy. 

If ETSU decides to allow alcohol at sports facilities, Cabe said they’d be the first in the Southern Conference to open up stadium-wide sales. 

“There may be some alcohol sales in certain hospitality rooms, club rooms, or things like that but we haven’t seen anybody at an on-campus facility go to general alcohol sales,” Cabe said. 

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