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Southern Miss to sell beer, wine at football games this season

Southern Miss is set to become the first Mississippi university to sell alcohol in its football stadium during games. The school announced Monday that it would begin selling beer and wine during home football games this season.

Alcohol sales at M.M. Roberts Stadium will begin with Southern Miss’s second home game, on Sept. 28 against UTEP. Southern Miss opens the 2019 season at home on Aug. 31 against Alcorn State, but the school said in a release that the delay is to train concession workers on proper policies and procedures.

“Concession workers and USM personnel will utilize the next month to ensure the proper training and infrastructure is in place to support a continued safe and enjoyable environment for fans,” the university said in a release.

Southern Miss is undecided on whether or not to expand alcohol sales to other venues besides M.M. Roberts Stadium.

“Many universities who have previously implemented sales report decreases in alcohol-related incidents during games, including binge drinking and possession of alcohol by minors. Additional measures such as limits on the number of purchases per transaction will also be in place,” the university said in its release.

Beer and wine will be sold in eight locations around the stadium. Among the safety procedures Southern Miss is putting in place are identification checks, limits on the number of drinks that can be sold in a single transaction and a no re-entry policy. Once fans leave the game, they will not be allowed back into the stadium.

In addition, sales will be cut off at the end of the third quarter. The university did not specify how many drinks fans can buy in one transaction.

Southern Miss will join about 60 other universities nationwide in selling beer and light wine at games, but will be the first in Mississippi to do so. The Southeastern Conference earlier this year allowed its members to sell alcohol, but Ole Miss and Mississippi State have not yet announced any plans to do so.

Last Friday, the University of Tennessee announced it would be selling alcohol to the general public this year. Tennessee became the sixth SEC school to do so. Tennessee joins Arkansas, LSU, Missouri, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt as schools that have decided to sell alcohol. Five SEC schools have said they will not be selling alcohol, where three (the two Mississippi schools and Florida) have not made an announcement.

Technically, Mississippi State law prohibits alcohol sale on college campuses. Southern Miss will circumvent that law, because M.M. Roberts Stadium has “resort status,” an exemption allowing the way around the alcohol sale law. Vaught-Hemingway Stadium also has resort status, but Davis Wade Stadium does not.

For Ole Miss at least, it’s unlikely fans will get a resolution in the 2019 calendar year. With the University still in search of a chancellor and with Keith Carter acting as the interim athletic director, it’s unlikely they will make such a big decision without future, full-time appointees in charge.