clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Division III school adding beer garden at football games

New, comment

Millsaps College is taking beer at college football games to a new level.

A rough sketch of the beer garden.
A rough sketch of the beer garden.
Millsaps College

Millsaps College is a Division III school in Jackson, Miss., with little name recognition to much of the football world, save for those who know it had the home of New Orleans Saints training camp for a spell in the mid-2000s. Game day at Millsaps Majors football games will draw the envy of fans of many major conference schools this fall for one reason: beer.

While 21 Division I schools will allow beer sales at on-campus stadiums this year, the practice has been slow to catch on in the major conferences because of the stigma that comes with alcohol. Millsaps however, is going about beer sales differently than even the Division I schools that sell alcohol. The Majors will have a beer garden at their games, sponsored by local brewery Lucky Town Brewing Company.

"I think fans, in general, think it's a good idea," Millsaps athletic director Josh Brooks said.

Brooks arrived at Millsaps this summer after six years as the associate AD at Georgia, where he also attended sports management graduate school. Interested in the trend of fans not showing up to college games -- a trend to which Georgia has not been immune --- he searched for reasons why and ended up focusing on beer as one of the ways to reverse schools' attendance fortunes.

"The more I looked at it, I realized more people were sitting at home, [watching] on their TVs, drinking alcohol," he said. "It's going to help with revenue generation, obviously, but I think mainly it's going to keep people attending, keeping the social scene."

It's an easy attendance boost, but a step major universities have been scared to take, for both stigma and liability reasons. The beer garden idea doesn't have Brooks worried, particularly because drinking will be designated to that area only. Once conference guidelines allow for it, beer could open up to the rest of the stadium.

"If there wasn't a proper way to do it, [other leagues, like the NFL] wouldn't do it," he said.

The beer garden has even more of a local charm in that it will be sponsored by Jackson's Lucky Town Brewing Company. Co-founder Chip Jones said that Millsaps' place in the community and its size make it a good fit for a new experiment like this one.

"Millsaps is actually very involved in the community where we're building our brewery right now, and they recruited us to locate here," he said. "When they come out and do this, they're not going to have too much pushback, even with us being in the Bible Belt."

Brooks doesn't anticipate any backlash, particularly since this is a more effective way to make sure people are being safe with alcohol at games, rather than just ignore drinking altogether.

"I see people consuming and just relaxing," he said.

As it should be.