Campus Activities proposes booze at football games

Management top priority: Coach Sheahan

Fans, like these at the 2002 Yates Cup, might be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage at all home football games in the future.
Fans, like these at the 2002 Yates Cup, might be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage at all home football games in the future.
Journal File Photo

Golden Gael football fans may not have to wait until alumni weekend to enjoy a few beers at Richardson Stadium.

AMS Campus Activities Commissioner Dave Homuth has submitted a proposal to Queen’s Administration that, if approved, would allow the commission to apply for a Special Occasion Permit from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.

The permit would allow the sale of alcohol during all home football games this year. “I’m reasonably sure [the approval] will go through, since there has been extremely positive support both from athletics and the dean of student affairs,” Homuth said.

Homuth awaits approval from Bruce Griffiths, the Queen’s University director of residence and hospitality services, who said the local LCBO would grant special occasion permits only if an application is in accordance with their guidelines.

“It’s really not about Queen’s deciding to allow a permit application to go forward so much as we don’t submit applications unless they meet the specific criteria,” Griffiths said.

Using alcohol to lure students back to football games—especially when almost all first-year students will be under the legal drinking age of 19—did not influence Campus Activities to seek approval for the liquor licence.

“There’s always the perception that we shouldn’t have alcohol at events like this because of [underage drinking], but I think it’s totally different,” Homuth said.

“The alcohol will be totally separate; [it won’t be served] in the stands.”

Nonetheless, Homuth said he imagines attendance will increase substantially if the license is approved.

Homuth said the beer tent location from previous homecoming games might relocate if the LCBO grants the permit, as it did not offer a great view of the game.

“It’s time to bring back varsity sports to the way they used to be,” Homuth said.

New management at the local LCBO and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario permit section in Toronto removed the liquor license at all home football games at Queen’s two years ago, after discovering that the previous management granted permits that did not meet the guidelines for a Special Occasion Permit.

Graham Sirman, a Kingston lawyer, said serving alcohol at all home games increases the AMS’ and the University’s liability, and both organizations would need the appropriate insurance to protect themselves from any incidents.

Sirman also said any consumers under the influence of alcohol must not be permitted to drive away from the stadium.

“A variety of reasonably foreseeable problems are apparent. The cost, risk and ethics of this proposal probably militate against it, but that is for the University to decide,” Sirman said.

Gaels Football Coach Pat Sheahan agreed.

Sheahan said that effective event management should be the top priority if alcohol was served at home games this season. He said all variables—including instances of alcohol excess, security, medical treatment and legalities—need to be addressed. “When school spirit and good cheer are in abundance . . . having a few pops at a football game seems to be an ideal thing to do,” he said.

“Unfortunately, such freedoms come with responsibilities also. Hopefully, there is a happy medium that satisfies most of who are involved this time.” Homuth said he could once again meet the criteria for a Special Occasion Permit from the Alcohol and Gaming Commission in one of two ways.

The Liquor License Act allows non-profit corporations like the AMS to sell alcohol for fundraising events, a provision through which the LCBO grants Queen’s a licence for alumni weekend.

But Homuth cautioned that licensed football games would not raise extra funds because the increased revenue from alcohol sales would cover the increased cost in providing security. If this approval method fails, Homuth said Campus Activities would try to get Kingston City Council to declare home football games a Community Festival Event. This declaration allows alcohol sales at the event.

The Gaels would join the Varsity Blues, the Windsor Lancers and the Western Mustangs as teams in the OUA Football League that serve alcohol during football home games.

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