The NCAA Men's Basketball Championship rolls back into Western New York later this week with games on tap for March 17th and 19th at KeyBank Center.  And for the first time ever in Buffalo, the games won't be the only thing on tap inside the arena.

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In a move that mostly went under the radar around here, the NCAA Division I Council approved a rule change back in 2018 that made it legal for fans to buy alcoholic beverages at NCAA championship events. The approval came two years after the board had launched a pilot program that allowed beer and wine sales to fans in general seating areas at the Men's and Women's College World Series.

In 2019, the rule change was applied to the NCAA men's basketball tournament when for the first time in NCAA history, the arenas that hosted games were allowed to sell beer and wine in public spaces, apart from the suites and clubs.

There were some restrictions put in place by the NCAA. Most notably, vendors were not allowed in the stands with packaged beer and wine after the teams enter the facility, which is the same policy that the NCAA had in place in the suites, where alcohol was previously allowed.

When the tournament has come to town in the past, fans looking to get their drink on have packed the bars around the KeyBank Center prior to the games. That will still, most likely be the case as it is after all St. Patrick's Day when the tourney kicks off on Thursday.

But, now that the tournament is back in town in 2022, fans will have their first chance to go to the games here in Buffalo with the new rules in place. Fans will be able to purchase beer and wine inside the arena when the games tip-off this Thursday.


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