Alcohol Sales at Alabama Sporting Events in Limbo Over City Service Fee
The future of alcohol sales at University of Alabama athletics events is in limbo over a fee adopted by the city of Tuscaloosa that would be applied to any tickets for an event where alcohol is sold.
UA's athletic director Greg Byrne hardly criticized the fee in a statement released Monday afternoon and said UA would suspend plans to serve alcohol at Coleman Coliseum until the matter was cleared up.
"It is very unfortunate that the City of Tuscaloosa's plan would unreasonable target Alabama Athletics and our fans with a service fee on all tickets where alcohol is sold, even tickets sold to children," Bryne wrote.
The measure in question, which the city council unanimously adopted last Monday, would apply a fee of $1 to any ticket sold for events where alcohol is sold 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.
At Coleman Coliseum, where Alabama's basketball teams and gymnastics squad compete, the venue's capacity is just over 15,000, meaning events there would be subject to a $1 fee for every ticket sold.
Talks are also in place to bring alcohol sales to Bryant-Denny Stadium, where the $3 fee would likely be applied to each ticket.
The Tuscaloosa City Council approved a license to sell alcohol at Coleman on February 1st, but a week later, adopted an ordinance to attach the new fees to ticket prices.
The fan-favorite AD pointed out the already high economic impact of Alabama Athletics, saying that UA already pays a 10 percent sales tax on all ticket sales, including a 3 percent tax paid directly to the city.
Bryne said that tax is expected to generate around $1.3 million for the city of Tuscaloosa this fiscal year, and additional taxes paid by concessionaires also give the city around $125,000 annually.
That's before considering numbers that are harder to calculate, like lodging taxes paid by fans who stay in Tuscaloosa overnight to watch an athletic event and city sales tax generated at restaurants, bars and store by sports fans.
As of Monday afternoon, Byrne said the fee would prevent the Athletics Department from moving forward on plans to sell alcohol at any UA event.
"While we greatly appreciate the partnership with and services provided by the City public safety personnel, our athletics events are primarily staffed by UAPD, our security resource officers and privately-hired security," Byrne wrote. "For these reasons and more, we don't think this is a reasonable approach that the city is attempting to take, and pending further review of this service fee, Alabama Athletics will not be moving forward with alcohol sales at this time."
Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for updates on this matter as they become available.