UF’s spring football game warm-up: Beer garden

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Before the Orange and Blue Game, one of the features on the North lawn outside the stadium will be a beer garden.

Florida is pulling out all of the stops to create a festive atmosphere for Saturday’s spring football game. That includes the stoppers keeping the beer from flowing.

Before the Orange and Blue Game, one of the features on the North lawn outside the stadium will be a beer garden. With restrictions of course.

“We talked a lot about the Gator Walk area and what we could do, what creative ideas we could come up with to make that a gathering place,” said UF associate athletic director Laird Veatch. “That’s the thing about a spring game. It’s a chance to try things differently.”

The North lawn experience will include a closed section of University Avenue (as it is for regular home games) and food trucks that will extend out onto the sidewalks.

But the addition of a beer tent is something that is certainly different. Just two years ago, Florida began selling beer and wine in its premium seating areas at the stadium.

There is an SEC rule about selling alcohol to the masses during a game, although Alabama AD Greg Byrne said this week that some SEC schools are asking for authority to change that. Florida is not among them.

Twenty-one Division 1 schools offer beer sales inside the stadium, although most of them are not those in the running for the national championship. There has been a slow move toward beer sales over the past five years as attendance has dropped in college football.

Administrators have also reported that controlled sales of alcohol have reduced the number of in-stadium incidents.

But Florida is not creating its beer garden as a test to see if it should sell in the stadium. Instead, a successful Saturday could lead to a similar situation during game days down the road.

“It’s going to be controlled, and the city has been great to work with,” Veatch said. “We modeled it a lot after the way they are doing it at Gator Growl. It’s going to be a new experience for our fans, and we hope it will create a buzz and a great atmosphere in that area.”

According to UF, the garden layout will consist of a fenced-off perimeter with one entrance where fans will have to show identification. All beer must be consumed before leaving Gator Walk Garden. Beer options include mainstream/traditional and local breweries. And cans will be poured into cups.

There will also be sales of non-alcoholic beverages in the tent.

6 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t think a beer garden is the sole key to increased attendance, but I love that Scott Strickland is trying something different. I think it will improve the game experience and I would love to see this on Saturdays. The idea that it will be out of control and that underage kids will be served in record numbers is ridiculous. The college kids are going to drink at their apartments, dorms, houses and walk over. They aren’t paying $6 for a beer, however alumni who just want to enjoy a few drinks in the pregame atmosphere will come. GPD and UPD will be checking IDs and the bartenders aren’t looking to ruin their gig by selling alcohol to underage patrons. I’m glad the University is finally giving us, as alumni, some credit that we can handle ourselves appropriately and will not just go crazy the minute we see a cup of beer. Most of us (including of-age students) do manage to function in our everyday lives and can enjoy a beer without becoming lunatics. I’m glad that the SEC and UF are realizing that they may not need to manage most of their patron’s impulse control. Jeremy Foley was a great athletic director (yes, we all know he made some mistakes) but I think Scott Strickland is taking that base and raising it to the next level.

  2. Allowing a beer garden is good for teams like Florida, and well, Florida, but you cant really let fans in places like Georgia, South Carolina, and Arkansas, have any form of alcohol for fear of even more “incidents”! its bad enough with what they sneak in – the purpose of buying beer is for once they have finished that! thank god these people don’t like soccer, because a Premier League style soccer game in Arkansas against Georgia would teach the hooligans in England new tactics, the stadiums would get burned down like that bridge over an interstate in Atlanta.

    • I have been to so many Georgia-Florida games in the old Gator Bowl when ETOH flowed freely, but I cannot remember anybody getting hurt. Well, except for when my Dad got beat nearly to death by a Georgia lady and her high heal shoe. But it was his fault anyway since our tickets that year were in the Bulldog section.

  3. I had a Georgia fan try to start something (I never even said a word, I guess I looked like something he wanted to tangle with for whatever reason) one time, so lets just say that going to dawgfight stadium, or hawgfight stadium, or roosterfight stadium (cant say the real word in public) aint on my bucket list (well I did go to rooster stadium and got to see Jack Jackson – the original #1- break their backs in the third quarter).
    these places voted for prohibition and staying dry, because the good citizens there knew you couldn’t stop the rampages (even the drinkers voted for it) so they thought they might could slow it down. ended up building a head of steam that was as bad or worse, but, as they say, that’s life in the big city.
    I know everyone is saying times have changed, not to worry, but in a series of populations, you get outliers that can be expensive overall. All jokes aside, I can live with that, but we just need to be realistic about things, what is profit for a beer company can be a net loser for the government and a transfer of fragility downstream rather than the opposite.

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