CHARLOTTE, NC (Mark Price/The Charlotte Observer) - There will be more beer drinking this weekend in uptown Charlotte's bars, restaurants and parking lots, and you can give credit to the NCAA tournament.
The NCAA doesn't allow the consumption of alcohol during tournament games, which means the host arena, Spectrum Arena, won't be serving any booze (except in the private suites).
That means fans must drink their fill in advance at local bars or at tailgate gatherings in parking lots.
There is no limit to the pressure the NCAA has faced over this, but it's tough to argue the organization's logic, which is spelled out in an official no-alcohol policy: "Illegal use and abuse of alcohol is contrary to the mission of the NCAA and destroys such fundamental values as respect, fairness, civility, honesty and responsibility."
Therefore, the NCAA Executive Committee recommends that all member institutions and conferences "prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages during all preseason, regular season, conference and postseason intercollegiate athletic events (and) prohibit on-site alcohol advertising."
The NCAA is reconsidering the policy, but that won't help attendees at this weekend's tournament. In November, the association's Board of Governors rescinded its regulation outlawing all alcohol sales at any NCAA-sanctioned postseason event and handed over the decision on whether to sell beer and wine at championship events to each division's leadership.
A report in the Indianapolis Business Journal says the switch came less than a year after the Indianapolis-based NCAA conducted a pilot program to allow alcohol sales at a limited number of events, so association leaders could gather data to make a long-term decision regarding the controversial issue.
Division 1, which includes Duke and UNC, took an immediate interest and the board asked the division to consider allowing beer and wine sales at some championships as soon as the 2018-19 season.
In the mean time, anyone thinking of sneaking beer into Spectrum Center needs to think again. The venue forbids bringing in beverages of any kind and it has a bag policy.
"NBA arenas are required to prohibit items such as bags, backpacks and briefcases larger than approximately 16 by 16 by 8 from being brought into the arena. Patrons who are in possession of items that are larger than this bag size shall be directed to the arena's secure storage area."