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Lawmakers eye allowing alcohol sales on campus game days

April 19, 2023
<p>Fans tailgate in preparation for the Michigan State game against Michigan on campus. Shot on Oct. 30, 2021.</p>

Fans tailgate in preparation for the Michigan State game against Michigan on campus. Shot on Oct. 30, 2021.

Photo by Lauren DeMay | The State News

Michigan State University may be able to start selling alcohol on campus during football, basketball and hockey games, if a bipartisan group of lawmakers have their way.

Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, introduced the bill to the Senate Tuesday, April 11. This is not the first time a bill permitting campus alcohol sales has been introduced, as former Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, introduced a similar bill last session, but it was never taken up for vote by the Senate.

McCann said the failures of past bills has not deterred him or the other sponsors in wanting to advance it again and “give it another try.”

McCann said he can never speak to the prospects of a bill passing when it is advanced again in the Senate, but with extra time in this legislative session, not taken up by the Midterm election season to pass this bill through, they could get this bill “to the finish line.”

“I think it will overall be an enhancement to the fan experience,” McCann said. “It's a part of professional sporting events and is increasingly becoming a part of college events. We see it at a number of other university venues doing this already and I think it's a change that's advancing across sports and entertainment.” 

Athletic Director Alan Haller was open to the idea of selling alcohol on game days to enrich the fan experience when it was introduced in the last legislative session. Haller did not believe that it would cause problems and venues and was hopeful that the Senate bill would pass.

Associate Athletics Director/Communications Matt Larson declined to comment.

In a press release, Rep. Graham Filler, R-Clinton, said that the bill will promote safety and fairness on gamedays.

"Giving universities the option to serve alcohol at their sporting events is about freedom, fairness and recognizing that the responsible consumption of alcohol inside the stadium is much safer than the binge drinking that goes on in the parking lot," Filler said in the release.

Filler is the sponsor of the House bill.

McCann said he wants the bill to pass because he does not want to lose students to other state universities outside of Michigan due to game day experiences they could find elsewhere, looking to lead the pack in having “great college experiences.”

The bill has now been referred to the Regulatory Affairs Committee, chaired by Sen. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield.

The Senate bill was cosponsored by Sens. Paul Wojno, D-Warren, Veronica Klinefelt, D-Eastpointe, Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, Joseph Bellino, R-Monroe and Sue Shink, D-Northfield Township.

Bellino declined to comment. Filler and Chang were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

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