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Draft proposal: Beer advertising, sales considered at football stadium
Jacksonville State University will stand alone among its peer institutions if it moves forward with plans to partner with beer companies.
The university is seeking a sponsorship from state distributors for national beer brands such as Coors and Budweiser, which could land some beer advertisements inside JSU’s athletic facilities. The school is also considering the possibility of having beer sold from athletic concession stands, but is only reviewing the potential revenue it might derive from that pursuit, university President Bill Meehan said.
Meehan gave JSU Athletic Director Warren Koegel the go-ahead to begin talks with companies for the sponsorships. But Meehan said he is opposed to selling beer at games. The sponsorship would not promote alcohol consumption, while selling it from the stands would, he said.
“Corporate sponsorship would be a lot different than the promoting of alcoholic beverage,” Meehan said.
He likened the sponsorship the institution might have with a beer company to the one it currently has with a soft drink provider. And he said advertisements would be akin to Alabama Power signs that appear in stadiums.
Such signage doesn’t promote the electric utility, Meehan said, and it wouldn’t promote alcohol consumption, he added.
But no other school in the Ohio Valley Conference, of which JSU is a member, has corporate sponsorships with alcohol companies or advertises alcohol in stadiums, though some have in the past, OVC spokesman Kyle Schwartz said. He added that none of the conference’s schools permit the sale of alcohol at their facilities.
But the OVC has no particular policy on either issue. Instead the conference leaves it up to each school to decide whether it partners with alcohol companies.
“It would be a campus-by-campus decision,” Schwartz said. “I believe most of our schools lean toward not doing that.”
Some outside the conference but inside the state have alcohol available at athletic events. At the University of South Alabama, fans of the budding football program can buy beer at city-owned Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. A handful of other college sports programs offer beer at games.
But those institutions that allow alcohol sales, or even advertise for the product in sports arenas, do so against the recommendation of some who are trying to curb underage drinking and alcohol abuse on college campuses.
The Higher Education Center on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention, a program of the U.S. Department of Education, recommends that universities restrict alcohol marketing and that they limit the availability of alcohol. JSU does both of those things now, but might not in the future — depending on the type of partnerships it establishes with beer companies.
Meehan maintains that a sponsorship would not promote alcohol sales. He has also said that if such a sponsorship develops, he favors incorporating an educational component to accompany the partnership.
“It’s not promoting alcohol consumption, it’s signage,” Meehan said.
by Laura Johnson, Anniston Star