KANSAS CITY, Mo. - For the first time in years, fans will be able to drink beer or wine inside the Sprint Center as they watch the 2014 Phillips Big XII Tournament from the stands.
“I don’t like it,” Melissa Alfers said, who works at the Gordon Biersch Brewery in the Power and Light District, “but I know well be alright."
Alfers can usually say without a doubt how full the brewery will be for the tournament.
"It gets extremely packed,” she said.
However, this year, she’s uncertain.
“We are worried a little bit about business,” she said.
After a nine-year absence, beer and wine are back at the tournament. Alcohol was banned after 2005 because conference bosses thought it didn't go well with a college event. But now the conference has reversed course.
“We really like to curb binge drinking,” Shani Tate Ross said, a spokesperson for the Sprint Center.
Last year, workers at the Sprint Center had to deal with drunken fans before the games. Ross said fans were drinking up to the last minute because the Sprint Center was dry.
“When people actually come in the building at the very last minute, it creates long lines. It gives us an opportunity to really, from a safety and security standpoint, to control our environment," Ross said.
Before this year, servers at nearby bars knew fans watching the tournament at the Sprint Center weren’t going to have any drinks during the game. However, this time around, they won’t know how many drinks fans have had before they come in.
“Is there going to be a lot of fights?” Alfers said. “You know, two people on opposite teams and then they bring that out here and then we're supposed to serve them when we don’t know how much they’ve been drinking."
That’s if the crowds still head to the bars after the games. Alfers hopes their hand crafted beers and food will be tempting enough. That, and the fact that a beer will cost you $8 at the Sprint Center.
“They’re getting more for their buck here,” she said.
Unlike the Big XII, fans will not be allowed to drink alcohol inside the arenas for the Big 10 and SEC tournaments.