City of Tuscaloosa Mends Fences with University, Waives Service Fee for Alcohol Sales
The city of Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama have mended fences after a rare public spat between the two institutions earlier this year over how to best sell alcohol inside Coleman Coliseum, Bryant-Denny Stadium and other UA venues.
For the uninitiated, the University announced it would begin serving alcohol in Coleman Coliseum in February, but plans to begin doing so were derailed by a service fee the city placed on tickets sold for events in venues where alcohol was available.
A resolution adopted by the city council added a fee of $1 to any ticket sold for events that seat 1,000 to 20,000 people, $2 for events between 20,000 and 50,000 and $3 for any event with more than 50,000 attendees.
Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox defended the fee after many at the University, including athletics director Greg Byrne, came out against it. Maddox argued that the city provides several million dollars of Gameday services from the Tuscaloosa Police Department and the Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Service but does not charge the University to do so.
The two institutions and their leaders did not come to an agreement months ago, but a University spokesperson said in a Wednesday press release that a compromise has been reached.
Under a new agreement, the University will provide specialty service funding to cover the enhanced fire and rescue, police, transportation and infrastructure services needed to provide a top-notch Gameday experience.
The University also introduced a new scholarship program that will fund scholarships for Tuscaloosa police officers and firefighters.
The two measures collectively will replace the service fee that caused so much friction earlier this year.
“We can’t express enough how much we appreciate and value the many public safety, fire and rescue, transportation, and other staff who help keep our communities safe and running smoothly,” said UA President Stuart Bell. "This agreement underscores the important roles they play and how the University values their roles.”
Maddox echoed those sentiments and thanked Bell for helping the city and University come to an agreement on this pivotal issue.
“The University of Alabama is not only our region’s largest employer and economic driver, they are partners when it comes to ensuring that Tuscaloosa is safe. I sincerely appreciate Dr. Bell’s thoughtful approach over the last few months as we worked together to provide more for our City’s police officers, firefighters and paramedics,” Maddox said. “The incredible growth of UA is phenomenal for our community, and this agreement will ensure that we continue to offer the best and safest experiences in the nation.”
The press release did not explicitly say how the new agreement will affect conversations about bringing alcohol sales to Coleman Coliseum and Bryant-Denny Stadium.
UPDATE, 2:30 P.M. UA Athletics Director has confirmed to the Tuscaloosa Thread that the new agreement will re-open the door for alcohol sales at Bama's athletics venues.
“We appreciate our partnerships, especially with the City, and the efforts of all the public safety personnel and first responders who work in and around our venues," Byrne said in a statement."With the recent expanded collaboration between The University of Alabama and City of Tuscaloosa we will continue our due diligence and revisit the opportunity for alcohol sales at select athletics events with our University leadership.”
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