- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2016

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - The state Board of Regents will create rules for the sale of beer and wine at special events hosted at public universities by July 1, when the new law takes effect, a board official said Monday.

The law limits such sales to sporting events and artistic performances, among other occasions. The new rules will allow schools not to take part in the sales, said the board’s executive director and CEO, Mike Rush.

Supporters say the changes are narrow and will make the school facilities more attractive venues for outside groups to book for conferences or other events.

“You can’t be serving it in the student union at lunchtime,” said Rep. Spencer Hawley, a Democrat from Brookings. “It’s very controlled.”

State law didn’t ban serving alcohol, but on-campus sales were prohibited. The intent of the new law is to have sales managed by a private vendor. They would also have to be approved by local municipalities.

Brookings, which is home to South Dakota State University, was a key supporter of the plan. City Manager Jeff Weldon said Brookings has had a long relationship working with SDSU, including providing funding for campus facilities such as a performing arts center.

Weldon said SDSU offers community events, which university officials may decide the sale of alcohol would improve.

“We see that as a community-wide benefit as well,” he said.

South Dakota State University President David Chicoine said the sale of alcohol could help campus venues as well as the school’s fundraising abilities. The plan could also allow the university to better promote premium seating at the new $65 million Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

But Chicoine said allowing beer and wine sales in general seating areas is “not at the top of (his) list” of things to do.

“I think there’s going to be opportunities for the all the campuses to work with their local cities and figure out how they might take advantage of the opportunity,” Chicoine said.

Opponents have argued that alcohol can have harmful consequences and that lawmakers shouldn’t make it more available to college students.

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