Beer, wine sales could be a game-changer for NC State, UNC

A law approved by the state legislature Wednesday might help N.C. State and North Carolina boost attendance at college football games this fall and, in N.C. State’s case, keep fans inside the stadium for the second half.

House Bill 389, if it’s signed into law by the governor, would allow schools in the UNC system to sell beer and wine at campus sporting events.

N.C. State regularly fills up Carter-Finley Stadium for home football games but there are a good portion of fans who go out to the parking lot at halftime. Most of those fans are going back to their tailgate spots for a refill. The result is the stadium is not as packed to start the third quarter as it is the first quarter.

“We have one of the best gamedays in the country in the first and second quarter,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “It would be awesome to be able to keep it that way in the third.”

The latest version of the bill was approved by the state Senate on Monday and the House on Wednesday, and it now goes to Gov. Roy Cooper for final approval. The law could be in place before the start of the 2019 college football season. It could be a game-changer at N.C. State and UNC, where alcohol sales are currently limited to the high-end booster club donors.

“As soon as the law gets passed, if it does get passed, we’ll adjust at that point in time and make our decisions on what we’re going to do,” N.C. State athletic director Boo Corrigan said.

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham said on Wednesday he would comment after Cooper’s decision. Doeren pointed out the obvious benefit of adding beer and wine sales.

“Obviously, it generates revenue for the university and for the program as well, which everybody is in favor of that,” Doeren said.

Wake Forest, a private school, started stadium-wide alcohol sales for football and men’s basketball in 2016. Duke, like UNC and N.C. State, limits alcohol sales to a designated booster-club area. Syracuse and Louisville are among the other ACC schools which have general alcohol sales during home football and basketball games.

For N.C. State, it could be the first step in altering its controversial stadium re-entry policy. Fans are allowed to leave and return to the stadium with the same ticket. Doeren, in his seventh year, has never been a fan of the so-called “pass outs.” He notably spoke out against them after his first game in 2013.

During several national telecasts since, the late-returning Wolfpack crowd is frequently criticized by the ESPN or ABC commentators for missing the start of the second half.

The general sale of beer and wine could lead to a change in that university policy but Doeren noted there would need to be upgrades to the amenities on the east side of the stadium before that could happen.

“It’s kind of a one-thing-at-a-time deal,” Doeren said. “Obviously, if you were going to pass that, you’d have to do some things stadium-wise to make that a good thing for the fans. It’s all about their experience and make sure they enjoy that.”

Corrigan, who has been on the job for eight weeks, said he hasn’t talked with Doeren in-depth about the stadium pass-out policy.

“We’ve talked about a lot of other things but we haven’t dug in on that,” Corrigan said.

Joe Giglio has worked at The N&O since 1995 and has regularly reported on the ACC since 2005. He grew up in Ringwood, N.J. and graduated from N.C. State.
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