In a significant policy shift, the University of Washington athletic department announced that beer and wine will be served throughout Husky Stadium to fans 21 and over during the upcoming football season. Previously, such offerings were only available in certain sections, such as premium boxes and beer gardens, where fans of legal age had to stay within the designated area to drink.
Husky Stadium has never sold alcohol in general admissions areas before, although those who have been following policies at UW may notice rules have relaxed somewhat in recent years in other venues around campus. Vendors have sold beer and wine at Husky baseball and softball games since 2018, and at hoops games since 2019.
Neither the NCAA or Pac-12 has any overarching rules about booze sales at sporting events for fans 21 and over, but rather leaves it up to the individual schools to create their own. Recently, several other Pac-12 schools have made similar announcements to UW’s, including USC, which plans to expand beer and wine to the general admission crowd for the first time since 2014. Although it looks like UW’s in-state rival WSU is not joining the party.
“The introduction of beer and wine throughout Husky Stadium was part of our long-term plan to introduce alcohol sales throughout several of our venues,” said UW director of athletics Jen Cohen in a statement. “We have consistently heard feedback from our fans that this amenity would benefit the fan experience on gameday and we have carefully monitored the successful rollouts for our diamond sports and at basketball games.”
In addition to the new beer and wine rules, Husky Stadium is implementing a no re-entry policy and will be moving to card-only transactions at concessions. Unlike in 2020 when there were no fans in the stands due to COVID in a delayed season, the stadium plans to be at full capacity this fall, and there aren’t any strict rules at the moment that would require people who are unvaccinated to mask up (it’s still only encouraged, in keeping with Seattle’s current mask recommendation). And unlike in May during the UW baseball and softball season, fans cannot purchase tickets to any “vaccinated sections.” It remains to be seen whether that will change if COVID cases continue to rise due to the more contagious delta variant by the start of the football season.
Correction: A previous version of this article mistakenly said Husky Stadium would serve fans “12 and over,” not 21. That typo has been fixed.