Legislation introduced by a Michigan senator would allow public universities in the state to sell alcohol at college stadiums, letting the University of Michigan and Michigan State catch up with other Big Ten Conference schools that permit beer sales at games.
The Michigan Senate passed the bill Wednesday morning, and it is now heading to the state House for consideration to be potentially approved before the fall football season, reports the Detroit News.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Sean McCann of Kalamazoo, would let public universities sell beer and liquor at sporting events from an hour before the game starts until 30 minutes after it ends. Michigan’s current law bans alcohol sales at college stadiums, and universities can only apply for liquor licenses when professional sports events occur on campus.
Eleven of the 14 colleges in the Big Ten allow alcohol sales at college sports events, with Michigan, Michigan State, and Nebraska being the three that don’t. The Big Ten generated $845 million in revenue in 2022, making it the richest conference in college sports.
The SEC lifted its conference-wide stadium ban on alcohol sales in 2019. Beer sales at University of Tennessee football games at Neyland Stadium jumped nearly 25% this past season to $3.3 million, which the school splits 50/50 with vendor Aramark, according to Knox News.
Michigan State University’s chief safety officer Marlon Lynch spoke in a hearing on Tuesday to support the proposed bill. Roughly 65 percent of gamegoers at MSU are 21 or older, Lynch said, according to Bridge Michigan.
“It actually improves the safety because you don’t have people preloading before the game, downing a whole bunch of beers … because they know they’re not going to have them available in the venues,” added McCann, a Democrat.