COLLEGE PARK - After much deliberation, the University of Maryland has decided to allow beer and wine sales next season in Byrd Stadium's 64 new suites, but it still won't permit alcohol anywhere else in the stadium, The Baltimore Sun has learned.
Literature being prepared for potential suite buyers promotes "in-suite beer and wine service" as well as indoor and outdoor seating and other amenities.
The 64 suites are part of a $50.8 million expansion of the stadium's Tyser Tower that will also add 440 mezzanine seats. So far, 28 of the 64 suites - each at a price of $40,000 to $85,000 a year - have been leased.
"We are pleased that beer and wine will be served in the suites at Tyser Tower in a safe manner consistent with university policy," senior associate athletic director Brian Ullmann said in a statement prepared in response to an inquiry by The Baltimore Sun.
"The controls the campus has developed will provide the proper safeguards for alcohol consumption, while providing the suite holders and their guests with a wonderful game experience," Ullmann said.
Alcohol is a sensitive issue in college stadiums. The student section consists of 10,000 seats at Byrd, or about one-fifth of the stadium. Many students are under the drinking age of 21.
But Maryland said the suite sales will be carefully monitored. It said only beer and wine will be sold and that sales personnel will be trained and certified. Drink maximums will be enforced.
Most colleges, including Maryland, don't permit alcohol advertisements inside their stadiums.
Maryland's policy says that "alcoholic beverages are prohibited at Chevy Chase Bank Field at Byrd Stadium" and that the "No Alcohol Perimeter" extends to the lines entering the facility.
But many schools treat suites differently than the rest of the stadium.
At Virginia Tech, Maryland's next opponent, luxury-suite holders are allowed to stock their suites with alcohol before game day. Many other schools in the Atlantic Coast Conference and around the country follow a similar model.
After studying other schools' examples, Maryland said it worked with its Athletic Council, an advisory group, on a policy. The council sent a series of options to the university president's office for approval. The school said the policy was recently approved but that details are still being finalized.
The question of alcohol in the suites has been debated among Terps fans.
"We have had this discussion during tailgates," fan Dennis Inguagiato of Columbia said. He said many fans believe they should be able to bring their own alcohol into the suites.,
"We think there may be many individuals who were considering pooling together to get a suite [but had] the 'can't bring your own stuff in' rule as a deciding factor not to pursue a suite," Inguagiato said.
Maryland said alcohol can be pre-ordered but that it must be purchased through Byrd's catering service.
"We feel like we have better control if we are the sole source of the alcohol," Ullmann said.
Note: : Cornerback Travis Hawkins from Quince Orchard in Gaithersburg has committed to Maryland, selecting the Terps over Penn State, Michigan and Oregon, among others. Hawkins is the 19th-best cornerback in the country, according to Rivals.com. He is rated the No. 199 prospect nationally for the class of 2009. "It's a great day for him and his family," Quince Orchard coach Dave Mencarini said. "He's really excited. [He announced the decision] in our auditorium [in front of] our team, family and friends."
Matt Bracken of baltimoresun.com contributed to this article.