COLUMBIA — Missouri announced Friday the university will permit alcohol sales at football games starting this season, in keeping with the Southeastern Conference's new regulations.
The SEC policy, which was changed May 31 at its annual spring meetings, allows alcohol sales across all sports. Missouri and its concessions partner, Levy, so far have only announced plans to make alcohol available at Memorial Stadium this season.
"Based on the experiences of other institutions, we expect Mizzou football fans will appreciate this new option," athletic director Jim Sterk said in a release. "We also expect alcoholic beverage sales at Memorial Stadium will help reduce the incidents associated with binge drinking that can occur on game day. We consider that a win-win for our fans.
"As part of this move, fans can also expect an increase in game-day messaging and education with regard to responsible consumption and sober driving, as part of our partnership with the campus Wellness Center."
The athletic department cited fan feedback as the primary reason for including alcohol sales, which will begin Sept. 7 against West Virginia, one of the first universities to offer alcohol sales at football and basketball games when its Board of Governors voted to enact the policy in 2011.
Missouri officials also consulted with the MU Police Department, which was in favor of the decision, as studies at places like West Virginia and Ohio State have shown controlled sales can contribute to a reduction on the number of alcohol-related infractions on game days.
"The University of Missouri's Police Department has worked closely with Mizzou Athletics on this issue," MUPD Chief Doug Schwandt said in the release. "We share a mutual commitment to maintaining a safe environment for fans, student-athletes and staff. Mizzou has a positive game-day atmosphere that we believe will continue under the new policy."
Beer and wine will only be available at select stationary locations throughout Memorial Stadium, customers 21 and older will be able to purchase two drinks per transaction, and all alcohol sales will be poured into cups, with no cans or bottles. Fans will not be permitted to bring alcohol into the stadium.
Missouri will also provide an alcohol-free zone for anyone who does not want to sit near fans consuming alcohol, and can request tickets for a designated seating area with no alcohol allowed. Vendors will undergo training to prevent sales to minors and recognize fake or not accepted forms of ID, as well as recognizing "signs of intoxication" and refusing service to "disorderly, intoxicated customers."
There will also be a sober/designated driver program that offers free water or soda, as well as other promotional items, to anyone who signs up with guest services as a designated driver. Ushers and law enforcement will also be monitoring fan behavior, and inappropriate behavior, including providing alcohol to a minor, thrown objects, public intoxication or verbal abuse could lead to refusal of sale, ejection or arrest.
The universities of Alabama, Auburn, Georgia and Mississippi State have all said publicly they do not intend to allow alcohol sales at athletic events in the near future.
After seven practices in training camp, the Tigers' depth chart has seen little movement.
That will likely change in the coming days.
"Excited to see our guys tomorrow in a little bit of a live situation and control the way we do things tomorrow. Should be good," head coach Barry Odom said following Friday's practice on Faurot Field. "Great evaluation piece to see kind of where we're at with some of our young guys, and look forward to getting out, getting to tomorrow."
There are six underclassmen (i.e. freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores) who are currently listed as starters: sophomores Hyrin White and Larry Borom (offensive line), Jalen Knox (wide receiver), Trajan Jeffcoat (defensive end) and Nick Bolton (linebacker). Longsnapper Jake Hoffman is a redshirt freshman.
But there are plenty of other underclassmen who haven't already lettered and are listed as third-stringers or not listed on the depth chart who have impressed. Borom and Case Cook, also a sophomore, are both listed as starters at left guard, but the coaching staff has had Cook take more snaps behind Trystan Colon-Castillo at center after Jonah Dubinski's retirement. Preparing a backup center is absolutely a necessity, but Borom, who looked good in 1-on-1 drills against Jordan Elliott and Akial Byers Friday, has not locked up the starting spot.
It's also very likely wide receiver Maurice Massey, strong safety Jalani Williams and cornerback Chris Shearin will see more than four games of action as true freshmen. And while Christian Holmes has formed a strong cornerback duo with DeMarkus Acy, sophomore Jarvis Ware could see the field in every game this year as Holmes' backup after playing in 10 games as a true freshman last season, recording six tackles.
Notes: Freshman linebacker Jaime Pettway, junior defensive back Mason Pack and freshman defensive back Aidan Harrison have been consistently held out of practice in red jerseys, working with battling ropes and exercise bikes, but there were a few more players in red Friday. Junior DB Adam Sparks was held out as a precaution as he works his way back from a shin fracture, and Tyree Gillespie, the starting strong safety, was out with a muscle strain in his hip according to Odom. Williams, Gillespie's backup, and wideout C.J. Boone both had dental appointments Thursday. Williams took some snaps in a red jersey, but Boone, who Odom said had a tooth pulled, was in street clothes Thursday and Friday.