OMAHA, Neb. -- The NCAA announced Wednesday that beer and wine will be sold in general seating areas for the first time this year at the College World Series in Omaha and the Women's College World Series in Oklahoma City.
The Division I board of directors last week approved a waiver to the longstanding policy of no general alcohol sales at championship events.
The NCAA described the alcohol sales as a one-year pilot program and said it would decide on future alcohol sales at championship events after comparing alcohol-related incidents this year to previous years at the Omaha and Oklahoma City events.
Sales have been permitted in premium seating areas at the College World Series the last two years. Jack Diesing Jr., president of Omaha's local organizing group, CWS Inc., said fans had asked him why they couldn't buy alcohol in general seating areas when people in premium seats could.
"We're moving slowly but surely into the 21st century in determining what's good for the fans,'' Diesing said. "This allows controlled access to beer and wine at concession stands, and I think it'll work out to be a fan-friendly result.''
The NCAA said TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha and ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City were selected because each venue has hosted NCAA championships for many years and the staffs at those events are familiar with NCAA policies. Both venues sell alcohol during other events.
"We support the change and will be ready for implementation,'' said Kristi Anderson, spokeswoman for the agency that oversees the Omaha stadium.
The Women's CWS is June 2 through 8 or 9, and the men's CWS is June 18 through 28 or 29.
Alcohol sales are becoming more common in college sports. The NCAA said schools that sell alcohol at events report a decline in alcohol-related incidents in their venues.
"Theories suggest that making alcohol available in the stadium prevents incidents of binge drinking before events and discourages people from attempting to bring outside alcohol into the venue,'' the NCAA said.