Even with rising attendance this year at Land Shark Stadium, underage drinking citations have dropped.
Last year 258 underage citations were given out. So far this year, there have only been 42 according to Florida’s Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco (ABT).
Although ABT Captain Priscilla Turner was not stationed in South Florida last year, she believes there are several reasons for the drop in citations.
“There has been a decrease in the number of ABT personnel that are working these Miami games,” Turner said. Currently, there are usually eight ABT officers present during games at Land Shark Stadium.
Turner also said losing more experienced officers to other agencies and retirement has meant that new officers are being trained on the job.
“Not only do we have about eight officers working, but you have to have an experienced officer to train that person to ensure that they know how to do the procedure, that they know how to approach these kids, what to look for when they’re looking at the identification,” Turner said. “Experienced agents already have that procedure down, they’ve been doing that for years.”
One of the changes made before this football season started was to open up student parking.
Last year, students were required to park within a section of the orange lot near Gate B.
This year, students can park anywhere in the Land Shark Stadium lot.
Turner believes the change in parking coupled with the lack of officers has led to the decrease in citations.
Not everyone believes that parking has been a major factor.
“Citations are given to address the behavior that the officers encounter. Where students choose to park this year simply makes an impact on how far they walk to get to the gate for entry into the game,” Assistant Dean of Students Tony Lake wrote in an e-mail to The Miami Hurricane.
Lake said that he isn’t sure why underage citations have dropped, but he believes the drop is linked to a greater awareness of stadium policies by students.
Officials at Land Shark Stadium agreed with Lake’s assessment.
“Last year was the first year of UM games at Land Shark Stadium so some fans were not familiar with the stadium’s policies. In addition, the stadium along with the UM Athletic Department has been proactive in communicating the fan conduct policy to ensure a safe and friendly atmosphere at UM games,” Lake wrote.
Most students feel they have seen less ABT agents at games this year. Senior Sophie Gonzalez said that she didn’t think she had seen any the last couple of games. Gonzalez said she thinks parking has been a big reason for this change.
“A lot of my friends are not parking in the same area. I see a lot of them in the west side still but not as many as last year,” she said.
Medical student Ravi Patel agreed that he sees less ABT agents, but he also said he isn’t on the look out anymore after turning 21. He believes that fewer ABT agents has led to a decrease.
“[There are] less of those cops so I think that’s the only reason,” Patel said.
Sophomore Tom Bonan says he has “definitely seen less” officers and attributes the drop in citations to greater student awareness.
“I feel like the students have gotten better at hiding it,” he said.
Benjamin Candea may be contacted at email@example.com.