Message in a bottle?

In addition to a great headline (Wrapped Around Your Billfold: The Police in Charlottesville) and a general thumbs-up for The Police concert on Tuesday night, Style Weekly's music reviewer Brent Baldwin raised an interesting question about drinking at JPJ shows.

"...can someone please tell me why," writes Baldwin, " if the venue is not allowed to sell alcohol (being a state school), everyone has to watch employees peddling kegs of beer into the private hospitality suites all night long? What's the message here? Responsible VIPs, or corporate sponsors, get to enjoy a little beer with their rock and roll, while commoners can suck on flat Pepsi and warmed over Domino's pizza? I'm sorry, but that sucks, and not just for alcoholics."

7 comments

Actually, the NCAA has little control over just about anything that happens in Division 1A football. A couple of decades ago the major conferences broke away and formed the College Football Association, and now the BCS. Now it's back under the NCAA, but a lot of their oversight and bargaining power has been stripped. Alcohol is definitely available at football bowl games (at least it has been in past years).

And this isn't an NCAA issue. It's a University of Virginia issue. If they want to allow beer sales at non-athletic or non-university events, they could. They do allow it in suites, and on-grounds at alumni functions. Again, if you have enough cash or donate enough money, they'll probably let you shoot heroin in your suite as long as you don't invite the serfs into your domain.

It's not just concerts at JPJ. The same thing occurs for basketball games, baseball games at Davenport, and football games. It's extremely hypocritical and hard to imagine it's not discriminatory in spirit. The well-heeled are allowed to drink, but those peasants not well-off enough to afford a suite may not partake.

A lawsuit would be interesting. I'd love to see how UVA would try to justify their caste system. I do know that alcohol isn't supposed to be served at NCAA events (but is often served at bowl games held in non-college venues!), but a concert by The Police doesn't qualify as an NCAA event.

I've heard a UVA employee at a game state that the people who pay to use the suites are allowed to do whatever they want.

And interestingly, the NCAA doesn't seem to have much of a problem accepting tons and tons and tons of ad dollars from the beer industry.

They get to drink in spaces they rent from the University for about $60k a year. That's about 10k a game. The entrance is controlled and ABC agents can and have come looking for violations. How is that different than in the parking lot where the drinking has always been allowed.
The presidents box serves NO alcohol at all and suite holders may only drink in there suites.

How is that different from the parking lot where drinking has always been allowed?

It's simple: everybody can drink in the parking lot. It's not limited to those who have deep pockets or the right friends. Inside the stadium it is - if you can't afford to pay $60k or aren't pretty tight with someone who is, you get to stand in line and pay beer prices for a watered-down soda. How can that NOT be seen as patently discriminatory? I rent space from the University for several hundred a year (end zone seats) - why does that not entitle me to drink? ABC Agents can come card me if they want to.

For a University that wants to project a righteous image, this is very bad. And to enable such discrimination on public property (supported by my tax dollars and my ticket dollars as well as by Coran Capshaw's, thank you very much) is at best unethical and at worst bigoted.

Seems to me if they are interested in doing the right thing they have a choice: either sell beer to the little people or ban it from suites. But they'll do neither. They have never had a problem saying one thing and doing another - why stop now?

WWJD (What would Jefferson do)?

The NCAA can only control their events - NCAA tournaments mainly - where they prohibit alcohol. Venture up to Verizon Center next March for the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament and you'll find no legal booze in a pro arena (I'm not sure about the suites there, that's not how I roll). Bowl games as of now can still sell alcohol, I think, although if the NCAA made it a requirement of approval that they stop selling alcohol, they could. Beyond that, it's up to the institution and the laws of the location. The CAA used to sell alcohol at the Coliseum during its tournament back in the 90s. I don't know what they do now that they've hit the big time.

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