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USC won’t add alcohol sales at Williams-Brice in 2019. Here’s why and what’s next

Ray Tanner talks newest football coaching hire, Gamecock statue

South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner breaks down the hire of John Scott Jr., the situation with women's basketball and Missouri, plus an update on the coming Gamecock statue
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South Carolina athletic director Ray Tanner breaks down the hire of John Scott Jr., the situation with women's basketball and Missouri, plus an update on the coming Gamecock statue

South Carolina will not sell alcohol outside of premium areas for the 2019 football season at Williams-Brice Stadium as it continues to evaluate the SEC’s new alcohol policy, athletics director Ray Tanner said in a radio interview on 107.5 FM on Tuesday.

That is a continuation of South Carolina’s previous setup when the SEC did not allow beer and wine sales in general seating areas.

Tanner said this policy decision only extends to the upcoming football season and added that USC continues to consider potential alcohol sales at basketball and baseball games in 2019-2020 and for football games starting as soon as the 2020 season.

“You’re gonna have people that are gonna say, ‘Why aren’t we doing this? We should be doing it right now,’ and we’re not there yet,” Tanner said. There’s a lot (with) the president, the board of trustees, we’re not there logistically. A lot of things have to happen. We’ve been anticipating there’s gonna be a change, and we’ve taken a look at it, but there’s a lot of work to be done yet.”

Williams-Brice Stadium is set to undergo renovations before the 2020 season which will increase the number of premium areas in the stadium where alcohol could be served under the current policy regardless.

Texas A&M is one of the few SEC schools to announce it will sell alcohol at football games this fall, while others have indicated they do not plan to or are taking a “wait and see” approach.

“Unofficially, probably seven of the 14 schools in the SEC are in the same spot we’re in right now. We’re not gonna do that. Will we do it in the future? I can’t say we’ll do it in the future,” Tanner said. “There’s a lot that goes into it, the logistics part — there’s sponsorship, there’s pouring rights, there’s all kinds of details that have to be worked out to get there. We’re not there. We don’t have enough information to even make a decision on where we would go.”

When asked how far along South Carolina is in its decision-making process, Tanner said the athletics department was “probably, maybe more than halfway on putting all the information together,” before that information is handed to the university president and board of trustees to make a final call.

“There’s gonna be pros and cons, there’s gonna be people that say we haven’t had alcohol in the seating bowl in forever, we’ve done OK. And then there’s others that are gonna say well, the fan experience would be increased if I had the opportunity,” Tanner said.

From a financial standpoint, Tanner raised the possibility that increased revenue from selling alcohol might be partially or significantly offset by the commitments that come along with it.

“Is it an opportunity to make a lot of money? We don’t know that for sure,” Tanner said. “You’re gonna have to increase security, you’re gonna have to probably have some renovations, you’re going to have to invest in this opportunity to change the way you’ve been doing business, so we don’t have all the answers yet, but we’ll get them before a decision is made going forward.”

At Colonial Life Arena, the infrastructure for beer and wine sales is in place for concerts, though no alcohol is sold during men’s or women’s basketball games.

The South Carolina men’s basketball team will host Houston on Dec. 8 at Colonial Life Arena in non-conference action, it was announced Tuesday. The game is part of a “scheduling alliance” created between the SEC and the American Conference in which four schools from each league take part in a home-and-home series starting with the 2019-20 season.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.
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