Indiana University Bloomington

Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Navigating the Super Bowl Safely

For many Americans, Super Bowl Sunday is spent with friends and family gathered around the television, cheering for their favorite team. This year many Hoosiers as well as other fans across the country will have the opportunity to experience Super Bowl festivities first hand in Indianapolis. While kickoff for Super Bowl XLVI is scheduled for approximately 5:15 pm on February 5th at Lucas Oil Stadium, the festivities will begin much earlier. With the creation of Super Bowl Village, locals and visitors will be able to join in the football festivities for ten days prior to the big event. The time frame for these featured events covers January 27th, 2012 through early morning hours of February 6th, 2012.

While the excitement of hosting the Super Bowl for the first time in Indiana brings joy to many Midwestern fans, it also poses concerns for public health and safety officials. Drinking and driving, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, as well as other crimes can shift a family-friendly environment into a hostile, unsafe situation. In 2011, 3 arrests (2 for public intoxication and 1 for theft) took place within the first quarter of the Super Bowl at the Cowboys Stadium. With such large crowds traveling from around the country to witness what is described as the most watched American television broadcast of the year, there are many potential dangers. Although, the city of Indianapolis and state of Indiana have been preparing for this nationally-broadcasted event for some time now, there is still a sense of unknown in regards of what to expect. Recently in preparing for the arrival of fans, city officials in Indianapolis have been working diligently to ensure that locals and spectators have a safe and enjoyable time during the Super Bowl festivities.

Super Bowl XLVI has brought a few changes to the state of Indiana, such as the transformation of downtown Indianapolis into Super Bowl Village, yet public leaders and safety officials are prepared to up-hold Indiana state laws and policies amongst the possible chaos that could arise during the Super Bowl events. A main issue that has received national news has been Indiana’s alcohol laws and policies in regards to Super Bowl XLVI. Indiana is currently one of 13 states in which the carry-out sale of alcohol is not allowed on Sundays. While Indianapolis will be allowing persons of legal age to carry open containers throughout the Super Bowl zone, state law regulating Sunday alcohol sales will remain in effect on February 5th. Indiana’s state law does not prevent the carrying of open containers of alcohol in public areas, yet the city of Indianapolis does have an ordinance preventing open containers of alcohol in city-owned parks. Alcohol will only be sold for immediate consumption from retail permit holders to persons of legal age within the Super Bowl zone. The sale of alcoholic beverages for consumption away from the Super Bowl zone premises - a one-mile radius around Lucas Oil Stadium - will not be allowed after 3 a.m. on Sundays until 7 a.m. Monday.

Retail permit holders will be allowed to sell alcohol on Super Bowl Sunday and the Sunday prior within the city's downtown Super Bowl zone inside and outside their establishments and party tents. Customers will be allowed to roam freely with their beverages in the Super Bowl zone each day from 7 a.m. until 3 a.m. the next morning. According to Indiana excise police there is no law in place forbidding drinking alcohol in public as long as the person drinking is at least 21years old and not already intoxicated. A person of legal age can drink outside of a bar as long as it is in the original container that it is served in. Officials advise that although drinking in public isn’t illegal, it should be done in moderation because public intoxication laws will be enforced.

While an estimated 70,000+ people will be watching the Super Bowl game at Lucas Oil Stadium on Feb.5th, thousands of more fans are anticipated to venture to the Super Bowl Village events throughout the ten day extravaganza. While chaos could likely arise with all of these visitors flocking to Indianapolis, the Indiana excise police will be watching partiers to make sure that drinking does not get out of hand.

Excise Police priorities include:

  • Preventing the sale and availability of alcohol to minors
  • Preventing the sale and availability of alcohol to intoxicated persons
  • Preventing the sale and availability of tobacco to juveniles
  • Enforcing other criminal violations

So if you plan to venture to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI festivities make sure that you’re aware of the Indiana laws and regulations regarding alcohol sale and consumption. Most importantly if you are of legal age and plan on drinking during the events make sure that you do so in moderation. According to the National Institute of Health, low risk drinking limits are defined as having no more than 3 drinks per day or no more than 7 drinks per week for women and no more than 4 drinks per day or no more than 14 drinks per week for men. Remember that while Indiana police will be allowing open containers in the Super Bowl zone, Indiana’s state law still prohibits the presence of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle. If you plan on drinking at any of the events, arrange a sober driver and do not get behind the wheel. Be safe and enjoy the great city of Indianapolis.

For more information on Indiana State Alcohol laws and Super Bowl XLVI visit:

By Theresa Hunter, 1/25/2012