Byrne, city of Tuscaloosa take another step towards alcohol sales at Alabama athletic events

Tzali Nislick, Contributing Writer

It appears that alcohol sales may finally be coming to Alabama athletic events, after athletics director Greg Byrne announced Wednesday that the university had reached a compromise with the City of Tuscaloosa.

Alabama announced it would serve alcohol inside Coleman Coliseum back in February, but those plans fell through after the city said it would impose an added service fee on all tickets sold for events with stadium capacities of at least 1,000 people. Byrne and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox both released public statements, Byrne’s condemning the city’s proposed tax and Maddox’s in favor of it. Maddox’s rationale was that the fee would help pay for any added aid that UAPD and the fire department would have to direct toward an incident stemming from alcohol consumption.  

After negotiations over the last few months, the two sides struck a deal that cuts the service fee and could result in alcohol being sold at athletics events as soon as this fall in Bryant-Denny Stadium.  

“We appreciate our partnerships, especially with the city, and the efforts of all the public safety personnel and first responders who work in and around our venues,” Byrne said. “With the recent expanded collaboration between The University of Alabama and City of Tuscaloosa we will continue our due diligence and revisit the opportunity for alcohol sales at select athletics events with our university leadership.” 

To account for the money that would have gone toward first responders from the service fee, the deal includes the university devoting $250,000 to Tuscaloosa City Hall each year from 2024 to 2028, as well as scholarships for Tuscaloosa police officers and firefighters and their children.  

“We can’t express enough how much we appreciate and value the many public safety, fire and rescue, transportation, and other staff who help keep our communities safe and running smoothly,” UA President Stuart Bell said. “This agreement underscores the important roles they play and how the University values their roles.” 

Maddox voiced his happiness with the compromise, citing the university’s importance for the Tuscaloosa economy. 

“The University of Alabama is not only our region’s largest employer and economic driver, they are partners when it comes to ensuring that Tuscaloosa is safe,” Maddox said. “The incredible growth of UA is phenomenal for our community, and this agreement will ensure that we continue to offer the best and safest experiences in the nation.” 

Byrne has not yet announced a date when alcohol sales at athletics events would begin, but this deal is a significant step forward in the process.