JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — East Tennessee State University kicks off its 2022 football season against Mars Hill at home on Thursday, Sept. 1.
A hot topic leading up to the season: will beer sales be allowed this season at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium for the first time?
ETSU confirmed Monday it will not sell beer at Thursday night’s season opener at home against the Mountain Lions. But, leaders have not ruled it out for the rest of the football season.
“I think most people would welcome having beer. From my standpoint, I want to make it the best possible experience we can,” said interim athletic director Dr. Richard Sander.
Sander says it’s no longer a matter of if they “can” sell beer, but if they want to.
He says leaders are still in a phase of working out the kinks and making sure everyone is on the same page; including students, season ticket holders and Sodexo, which would provide the beer at games.
“What we are trying to do is make sure that if and when we do start to serve beer, that it is seamless,” said Sander.
The first time beer was sold at Greene Stadium, and starting the conversation surrounding beer at football games, was in April at the Miranda Lambert concert hosted at the stadium.
University leaders say lessons were learned, one being that lines for beer sales were too long.
The goal is to streamline the process of beer sales.
“That we are much more efficient so people can watch the game, that’s what they are there for. We don’t want them standing in line for a beer for a half hour and miss the game,” Sander said.
Another concert kink exposed an area of improvement for the stadium itself.
“The biggest glitch was the ability to take credit cards. That’s one of the things we are looking at now is to get more internet drops at the stadium so they can take more credit cards faster,” said Sander.
Some students we spoke with on campus Monday say they support beer sales at football games.
“As long as people are drinking responsibly then I don’t see an issue with it,” said Ariana Perry, an ETSU senior.
Sophomore Iranessa Spencer agrees.
“They are going to ID you obviously and I think some schools only limit like three beers. I think we should start selling it. It’s a trial and error,” Spencer said.
At the Lambert concert, beer sales alone brought in around $60,000 in revenue. But, the university says the decision to sell beer at football games is more about the fan experience than cashing in.
“It’s not just a money grab, it’s part of the experience, it’s part of what our constituent base wants,” Sander said.
A final decision should be made on whether to move forward with beer sales within the next two weeks.
No beer will be sold at ETSU’s home opener against Mars Hill Thursday and its unlikely it will be sold at ETSU’s next home game against Furman on Saturday, Sept. 17.
After that, there will be three remaining home games of the regular season.
Click here for ETSU’s 2022 football schedule.