A bill signed into law by Governor Bill Lee will permit alcohol sales at Neyland Stadium and Thompson-Boling Arena for concerts and special events – but not at games. The SEC’s strict no-alcohol policy forbids that.
Knoxville Republican Senator Becky Duncan Massey introduced the bill in February, and it was signed into law this week. She said it will enable Knoxville to compete with other big-city venues to bring name acts to town While the law went into effect immediately, the University of Tennessee still needs to formulate a policy regarding sales of alcohol on campus.
Knoxville was the only one of the four major cities in Tennessee that couldn’t allow alcohol sales at its major venue. University officials say now that the bill is passed, there will need to be much consideration regarding how, when and where alcohol will be sold.
Massey said the move to allow alcohol sales could boost tourism in the area. She said other large venues that draw top-name performers “depend a whole lot on the sales of concessions and, obviously, the alcohol is a part of that.”
Concert promoters say alcohol sales at venues could help raise Knoxville’s profile. Ted Heinig of AC Entertainment said many artists prefer not to play venues that don’t serve alcohol, and the new law will put Thompson-Boling Arena “back on a level playing ground with other arenas in the region.”
He said allowing alcohol sales at event venues is often safer, because people aren’t sneaking alcohol in to the venue or drinking to excess beforehand.