NEWS

UA fans: Forget the flasks for football

It’s game time at Arizona Stadium. Fans flood the stands in a sea of red. Block A’s are branded on T-shirts and baseball caps. War paint is streaked on enthusiastic faces. A Wildcats football game is a time to cheer the team onto victory and celebrate.

But when fans decide to smuggle alcohol into the stadium, the celebration becomes illegal, even dangerous, authorities say.

There were 708 arrests by campus police for liquor violations in 2010, according to the 2011 University of Arizona Police Department Annual Campus Safety and Security Report.

“The numbers really aren’t as important to me as the fact that it continues to happen,” said Sgt. Juan Alvarez, public information officer for the UAPD. “When people drink, the first thing that happens is that their ability to make good decisions is impaired, so you are more likely to become a victim or engage in disorderly activities.”

MORE FROM THE DAILY WILDCAT

Alvarez said students are not the only ones who bring alcoholic beverages into the games, and the general public does as well.

This year, alcohol will be available for sale to fans with access to the first level and the second level of the skybox under a special events license.

“It’s kind of an upper amenity to the fans in the Loge (first level) and Level II who pay a high premium for those seats,” said Suzy Mason, senior associate athletic director of event management.

This privilege will extend to fewer than 1,000 fans, Mason said. Those who wish to buy alcohol in the permitted areas must provide valid identification and wear a wristband. The bartenders will begin serving when the gates open and will continue up until the end of the third quarter.

No outside containers are permitted inside the stadium, except for sealed plastic water bottles, as stated in the Arizona Stadium Policies and Procedures. Small bags and purses are inspected by security at the stadium entrances. Regardless of these precautions, however, patrons still find ways to sneak alcohol past security.

Hideyourbooze.com is a website that promotes various devices that help conceal alcohol, such as fake cellphones that function as flasks and bra-like contraptions that conceal soft flasks.

There are even Facebook groups that allow users to swap ways to smuggle alcohol into events. One such group, titled “Alcohol Concealment Ideas,” called on members to “share ideas on how to hide alcohol when sneaking into events” in the group’s description subsection. Members exchanged methods from zip-close bags strapped to thighs to empty hand sanitizer bottles.

Ryan Everett, a psychology senior, said he doesn’t really think fans smuggling alcohol into the stadium is an issue, but rather consumption beforehand.

“I see a couple people now and then with flasks, but on the whole, I just think it’s just a lot (of people) who get way too messed up pre-gaming,” Everett said.

UAPD is not staffed to provide adequate security and to patrol the entire stadium during games, Alvarez said. Therefore, extra officers from other local agencies are hired to assist during game days.

“We are continually observant and if you are caught with any of those containers you’re at the very least going to get expelled from the game, if not arrested,” he said.

Alvarez said if students are caught with alcohol on campus, they could be arrested or referred to the UA’s Diversion Program, a voluntary educational program that dismisses a misdemeanor charge upon completion.

Students often drink because other people are drinking and to enhance the “fun” of an activity, said Debra Cox-Howard, a licensed mental health clinician at Counseling and Psychological Services. The service is a section of the UA’s Campus Health Service that often counsels students who are enrolled in the diversion program.

“I recently had a student tell me that it’s what you are supposed to do for fun in college,” Cox-Howard said. “I am really surprised how many students don’t know that alcohol is a depressant.”


Share this article