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Alcohol at university stadiums in Michigan? Lawmakers are interested.

 Spartan Stadium
A similar effort to allow alcohol in Spartan Stadium and other university sporting complexes was introduced last session. (Bridge photo by Lauren Gibbons)
  • Bipartisan effort would allow Michigan public universities to sell alcohol at sporting events
  • ‘No good reason’ for banning booze at college sports stadiums, lawmaker says
  • MSU, U-M among the few Big Ten universities that don’t allow alcohol in stadiums

College sports fans could have the option to grab a beer inside Spartan Stadium or the Big House before heading to their seats under a proposal pending in the Michigan Legislature. 

In Michigan, universities are not allowed to sell booze during school athletic events, although they have occasionally gotten permission to sell alcohol at stadiums when professional sporting events take place on campus. 

Bipartisan legislation introduced in the House and Senate would let Michigan public universities with basketball, football or hockey programs to apply for liquor licenses for those games. That would open the door for Michigan State University and the University of Michigan to join other Big Ten schools already selling alcohol in stadiums.


Under the bills, universities that obtain liquor licenses for eligible events could start selling alcohol an hour before game time.

Eight of the 14 Big Ten schools already allow alcohol sales at football games, and supporters of the legislation argue changing the policy could help decrease binge drinking and other alcohol-related incidents ahead of and during sporting events. 

“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,” said Rep. Graham Filler, a Duplain Township Republican sponsoring the proposal. 

Michigan State University Athletic Director Alan Haller told the Lansing State Journal in June 2022 that he supported the idea, saying that allowing the option would “increase the enjoyment factor for the fans who come to our events.” 

Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, is sponsoring the Senate version of the plan and argued there’s “no good reason” that fans sitting in stadium suites — who can buy drinks during games if the suites are not connected to the rest of the stadium — should have access to alcohol while other attendees can’t. 

Filler sponsored a similar effort last session that never got taken up for a vote. His co-sponsor last term was Detroit Democrat Joe Tate, a former MSU football player who now serves as House speaker. 

The measures are now before the House and Senate Regulatory Reform committees and would need to pass both chambers and get Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s signature before becoming law.

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