Alcohol sales return to the Coliseum after 17-year hiatus

After four home football games, fans are divided over the university’s decision to allow alcohol sales at the Coliseum.

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USC football’s matchup during Trojan Family Weekend on Saturday against Utah will mark the fourth game in nearly 20 years since the university reinstated alcohol sales at the Coliseum.

After 17 years of prohibiting in-stadium alcohol sales, USC Public Relations said the Coliseum ban was lifted in efforts to “enhance the football game day experience and create an even safer environment for Trojan fans.”

Administrators and fans say they haven’t noticed an uptick in rowdy fan behavior due to the policy.

The university banned beer and wine sales back after the 2004 season, when the Trojans won their last national championship, due to inappropriate behavior from fans.

At the time of the ban, USC was one of the only schools in its conference still selling alcohol at football games.

According to then-USC President Steven Sample, inappropriate language and disorderly acts caused by alcohol consumption was disrupting USC’s game-day spirit.

In a letter to the USC community, Sample stated that any person that was in possession of alcohol would not only “be evicted from the Coliseum” but also “permanently lose the privilege of buying tickets to home football games.”

In justifying its decision to reintroduce alcohol sales, USC cited data from various college and professional teams that suggested fans consume less alcohol more responsibly at pre-game events as a result of the return of alcohol sales at the stadium. For example, West Virginia University reported a 35% decrease in game day arrests after alcohol sales were allowed inside the stadium.

Roy Nwaisser, a diehard fan of USC football who has attended every game since November 1992 (excluding last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic), doesn’t feel that the reintroduction of alcohol sales has affected the overall demeanor of fans.

“I haven’t noticed any change in fan behavior this season,” said Nwaisser. “If someone really wants to consume a lot of alcohol, they’re probably going to do it before the game, rather than during the game.”

Likewise, David L. Carlisle, the Assistant Chief at USC Department of Public Safety, says he attended all the games this season and has not seen a change in the student section after bringing back alcohol sales.

Still, not all fans are on their best behavior, as some students have reported instances of their intoxicated peers causing issues in the USC student section.

“It makes it hard to enjoy the actual game when you have to worry about not getting [bothered by drunk students],” said USC sophomore Luke Langlois, a Philosophy, Politics, and Law major. “And of course whether that’s Coliseum alcohol or students pregaming is another story, but it is annoying.”