UK Athletics announces pilot program to sell alcohol at sporting events


Jack Weaver

Kentucky athletics director Mitch Barnhart watches the Kentucky vs. No. 1 South Carolina womens basketball game on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, at Memorial Coliseum in Lexington, Kentucky. South Carolina won 95-66. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Cole Parke, Sports Editor

UK Athletics announced a pilot program that will test out the sale of alcoholic beverages at sporting events, starting with the 2023 baseball and softball seasons.

Our priority is, as always, to positively impact our student athletes and the experience of our fans,” Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart said in a press release. “As has been our longstanding practice, we approached this deliberately, keeping in mind our priorities and principles.  We focused on data and the lessons learned and best practices from other institutions.  After careful consideration of these factors, we concluded that the time is right to implement a pilot program at baseball and softball games this season so that we can learn more.”

The program will allow alcoholic beverages including beer and seltzers to be sold in cans or cups at baseball and softball home games.

Each sale will have a limit of two alcoholic beverages per transaction and will require proper identification to be presented.

For home baseball games the sale of alcoholic beverages will end in the middle of the seventh inning, while it will take place in the middle of the fifth inning for home softball games.

“Mitch and his team moved thoughtfully through a process that led to this pilot program,” UK President Eli Capilouto said in the press release.  “The decision to initiate a pilot program is one that the institution grappled with, and the methodical approach taken by the athletics department will lead to the best experience for our student-athletes and sports fans alike.  It is through that lens that we will make decisions about future seasons.”

UK’s concessions partner, Aramark, will be managing all beer and seltzer sales across all UK sporting events, as well as attempting to monitor alcoholic consumption to prevent overly disruptive patrons.

There are currently no plans for an alcohol-free section, but UK Athletics noted that all alcoholic beverage sales will only be sold at designated locations.

For the time being the program is only for the baseball and softball programs, with a decision set to be made in the Summer, after a full season of monitoring the program, to decide whether or not to expand the program to football games in the fall.

Per SEC rules no alcoholic advertisements are eligible to be displayed in or on any UK athletic facilities barring the selling location.

Kentucky baseball is set to host its first home game on Tuesday, Feb. 21, when it hosts Evansville, with the game set to begin at 4 p.m. EST.

The softball team will host its first home game on Wednesday, March 8, when it hosts the Dayton Flyers. That game is set to begin at 5 p.m. EST.