UA venues cleared to sell al­co­hol

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - JAIME ADAME

FAYET­TEVILLE — Al­co­hol can now be sold at Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville bas­ket­ball and base­ball fa­cil­i­ties af­ter state-is­sued per­mits took ef­fect Satur­day, but a univer­sity spokesman said there are no plans to be­gin sales at in­ter­col­le­giate sport­ing events in those venues.

Large-at­ten­dance fa­cil­ity per­mits were ap­proved last month for con­ces­sion­aire Levy Pre­mium Food­ser­vice LP to sell al­co­hol at bas­ket­ball venue Bud Wal­ton Arena and base­ball fa­cil­ity Baum Sta­dium, as well as

for gym­nas­tics and vol­ley­ball site Barn­hill Arena, said Mary Robin Cas­teel, di­rec­tor of the Al­co­holic Bev­er­age Con­trol Di­vi­sion.

Fayet­teville po­lice were no­ti­fied of the per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions and had no ob­jec­tions, Cas­teel said.

A large-at­ten­dance fa­cil­ity and cater­ing per­mit also was ap­proved for Levy, a new con­ces­sions ven­dor for UA, to sell al­co­hol at Don­ald W. Reynolds Ra­zor­back Sta­dium, where lim­ited sales of beer and wine be­gan in 2014.

About 9,000 fans may pur­chase beer and wine at in­door “club” ar­eas at Ra­zor­back sta­dium, fall­ing in line with South­east­ern Con­fer­ence reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit­ing gen­eral seat­ing sales.

Net sales to­taled $143,150 in 2016, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the univer­sity.

UA spokesman Kevin Trainor said in a May email af­ter no­tice of the ap­pli­ca­tions was made pub­lic that there were “no cur­rent plans” for Levy Pre­mium Food­ser­vice LP to sell al­co­hol at the three fa­cil­i­ties with newly is­sued per­mits. A let­ter from Jeff Long, UA’s ath­letic di­rec­tor, sub­mit­ted with the per­mit ap­pli­ca­tions also said there were no plans to sell al­co­hol at in­ter­col­le­giate sport­ing events in those three venues.

The three fa­cil­i­ties, in ad­di­tion to host­ing Ra­zor­back ath­letic events, also are used “for var­i­ous out­side events through­out the year,” Trainor said.

With the per­mits in place, “the op­tion to sell al­co­hol would be avail­able for those events through our new con­ces­sions/cater­ing part­ner Levy,” Trainor said.

UA ear­lier this year so­licited bids and is switch­ing ath­letic event con­ces­sion­aire ser­vices to Levy, a sis­ter com­pany of cam­pus food-ser­vice provider Chartwells Din­ing Ser­vices. Both are part of Com­pass Group North Amer­ica.

Pre­vi­ously, the univer­sity had con­ces­sion­aire Sodexo pro­vide food and bev­er­age ser­vices for ath­letic venue con­ces­sions. Un­der a deal signed with Sodexo in 2014, the univer­sity re­ceived 40 per­cent of al­co­holic bev­er­age net sales.

In the first year of sell­ing beer and wine at Ra­zor­back Sta­dium, net sales for Sodexo to­taled $234,918, ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by UA. Af­ter ex­penses, the univer­sity pock­eted $26,126 in net rev­enue.

Net sales to­tals de­creased each of the next two years, fall­ing to $170,894 in 2015 and $143,150 last year, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion re­leased by the univer­sity. In each of the three years, six foot­ball games took place at Ra­zor­back Sta­dium.

While some univer­si­ties, in­clud­ing the Univer­sity of Texas at Austin, sell al­co­hol through­out their foot­ball sta­di­ums, the Ra­zor­backs com­pete in the South­east­ern Con­fer­ence. Trainor has said the con­fer­ence pro­hibits al­co­hol sales in gen­eral seat­ing and pub­lic ar­eas of on-cam­pus sport­ing venues.

In June, the Florida TimesUnion re­ported that SEC Com­mis­sioner Greg Sankey said that school pres­i­dents talked about the al­co­hol pol­icy at an an­nual meet­ing.

“It’ll be a con­ver­sa­tion topic as we go for­ward,” Sankey said, ac­cord­ing to the TimesUnion. “We’ve not cur­rently changed our pol­icy, but it’s one of those things that will be un­der dis­cus­sion.”

UA is ex­pand­ing Ra­zor­back Sta­dium, an es­ti­mated $160 mil­lion project with an em­pha­sis on adding pre­mium seat­ing and suites that, ac­cord­ing to bid doc­u­ments pub­lished by UA, also will in­crease the num­ber of places where fans can pur­chase al­co­hol.

“Beer and wine will be sold in the new Founder’s Club and North End Zone Clubs that open in 2018,” the bid doc­u­ment states. To­tal sta­dium ca­pac­ity will in­crease to about 76,000 from 72,000.

Bid doc­u­ments listed 19 “non-ath­letic events” with con­ces­sions or cater­ing at ath­letic venues from March 30, 2016 through Jan. 30, 2017, in­clud­ing a Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters game in Jan­uary at Bud Wal­ton Arena. Eight of the 19 listed events were ei­ther high school grad­u­a­tion or UA com­mence­ment cer­e­monies, while oth­ers in­cluded a fundrais­ing con­cert and a com­pe­ti­tion for grad­u­ate stu­dents at­tend­ing an SEC busi­ness school.

Trainor said in an email in May that any out­side events at Bud Wal­ton Arena or other venues must fol­low poli­cies set by the Univer­sity of Arkansas board of trustees.

Trainor said that be­fore UA fin­ished con­struc­tion of its Bas­ket­ball Per­for­mance Cen­ter in 2015, which pro­vided a prac­tice fa­cil­ity for the school’s bas­ket­ball teams, Bud Wal­ton Arena was pri­mar­ily used for univer­sity events and the an­nual Wal­Mart share­hold­ers meet­ing.

“That was be­cause the men’s and women’s bas­ket­ball team didn’t have an al­ter­nate fa­cil­ity to prac­tice/work out etc.,” Trainor said.

Trainor said Wed­nes­day that the univer­sity “re­serves the right for ap­proval of any use of al­co­hol on cam­pus for out­side events.”

Trainor said Levy paid the fees for ob­tain­ing the per­mits. Cas­teel said each large-at­ten­dance fa­cil­ity per­mit costs $2,500 and is re­new­able an­nu­ally, with the cater­ing per­mit cost­ing $500.

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