Aug 08, 2020

Bulldog Stadium remains ‘dry’ after one year

Not all Fresno State fans were thrilled with the new, alcohol-free policy at Bulldog Stadium shortly after the policy went into effect at the start of the fall 2006 semester.  This photo was taken Sept. 9, 2006 in the student section as the Bulldogs hosted the University of Oregon.
Juan Villa / The Collegian

For Bulldog football season ticket holder Bob Labrucherie, banning alcohol at Fresno State sporting events equals calmer crowds.
“I think it’s good,” the 50-year-old Labrucherie said. “It’s good for keeping the crowd under control. I’ve noticed the crowd is quieter.”

Labrucherie, a Madera resident and a season ticket holder for 10 years, recalled watching the actions of intoxicated football fans before the ban.

“There was one person who was spilling beer on a lot of people around him,” Labrucherie said. “I noticed sometimes, walking out of the stadium, people who were obviously drunk.”

As Fresno State starts the second year of alcohol-free sporting events on university-owned property, school officials and University Police report fewer alcohol-related security problems at football games.

Amy Armstrong, public information officer for the University Police Department, said most alcohol incidents decreased by half during the first year of the ban.

“There were less incidents of people just being drunk in public, which is illegal,” Armstrong said. “When people are drunk, they tend to act out, so that has decreased at the football games.”

Paul Ladwig, associate athletic director for external relations, said the ban hasn’t dampened the tremendous fan support. He said that more families returned to Bulldog Stadium after the ban last year.

“We want families and kids to come and enjoy and have a great time at Bulldog football games,” Ladwig said. “Overall, we do have a better atmosphere in the stadium.”

Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the California State University system, issued an executive order on Dec. 23, 2005 prohibiting the sale of alcoholic beverages at athletic events held in university-owned and operated facilities in the 23-campus system. For Fresno State, the order bans alcohol sales at football, baseball and softball games, but not for events at the Save Mart Center.

President John D. Welty said in an e-mail that Reed imposed the ban “to improve the intercollegiate athletic experience for spectators at athletic events.”

Although Fresno State could have waited to implement the ban until their alcohol concession contracts expired at the end of the 2007-2008 school year, school officials decided to end alcohol sales two years early, in September 2006.

“We had received several complaints from fans about irresponsible consumption of alcoholic beverages in the stadium,” Welty said. “We had been discussing the need to make this change even before the policy was adopted at the system level. It was our belief that an immediate change would improve the fan experience.”

The executive order also restricted the advertising of beer and wine on CSU campuses, including sporting events. According to the directive, advertising messages must promote the responsible use of alcohol, eliminating any reference to the number of drinks.

“There can still be alcohol signage [at football games],” Ladwig said. “That signage has to be in a ratio of 50-50 with responsible drinking signage.”

Welty, chairman of the CSU Alcohol Policies and Prevention Programs Committee, led the effort to re-examine CSU alcohol guidelines with a committee made up of students, faculty and administrators.

“In the aftermath of a few tragic events, including the death of a student at Chico State, it was decided to conduct a complete review of our alcohol policies and programs,” Welty said in the e-mail. “Our conclusions were that a comprehensive system policy would lead to dramatic improvements and a reduction of irresponsible consumption of alcoholic beverages.”

Each of the 23 campuses in the CSU system designed an individual alcohol education and prevention program. The committee presents progress reports every two years to the Board of Trustees. Welty said the results indicate there has been a significant decrease in irresponsible drinking behavior since 2001.

In the third progress report presented on July 10, 2007, Fresno State was highlighted for creating an improved atmosphere at football games with the early enactment of the ban on alcohol sales and the creation of Bulldog Boulevard, an alcohol-free family fun zone.

Bulldog Boulevard, located on the east side of Bulldog Stadium in the Red Lot, attracts families to football games, Ladwig said. The area, open three hours before kickoff, provides families with musical entertainment, food vendors, inflatable games in the fun zone and video games in the Dog Pound.

“I think it’s been very successful,” Ladwig said. “I think it’s always a work in progress to figure out other vendors and items that we can bring to Bulldog Boulevard. Having areas where it’s a family fun zone that’s alcohol-free is a great addition to what we do on game day.”

Justin Bedwell, a Fresno native and a football season ticket holder, brought his 2-year-old son Ethan to Bulldog Boulevard before the Sept. 1 game against Sacramento State.

“I like it, I think it’s pretty cool,” the 30-year-old Bedwell said. “You can get some nice meals, some entertainment for the kids before the game. It’s well done.”

Bedwell, a Red Seat season ticket holder for four years, remains undecided on the effectiveness of the alcohol ban.

“It definitely promotes more of a family-friendly atmosphere, so yes I would say it’s good for people with kids,” Bedwell said. “My only drawback is my section seemed to be responsible anyway, so it seems like they’re punishing the good people as well as the bad. All in all, it’s probably a good thing.”

Some students also question the usefulness of the ban.

Tristan Bufete, 21, said the ban possibly leads to more “pre-partying” before the game, with students “loading up” on alcohol before they arrive at the stadium.

“You don’t need to drink to enjoy a game,” Bufete said, “but it’s so intrinsic in the experience that people will do it anyway.”

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