Committee passes bill giving U the power over stadium alcohol sales

The bill would allow the school to decide where in the stadium they would sell alcohol.

Michael Zittlow

Liquor vendors might make their way into TCF Bank Stadium âÄì but they probably wonâÄôt be selling to everyone.

The Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection Committee passed a bill Wednesday that would allow the Board of Regents to decide whether or not alcoholic beverages could be served at the stadium, and decide to whom they would sell.

The bill would lift a current mandate that bars alcohol sales at the stadium unless they are accessible to at least one third of the general seating.

Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said the bill prevents the legislature from micromanaging decisions that should be made by the University.

Kathryn Brown, President Robert BruininksâÄô chief of staff, said the Board of Regents has decided to not allow liquor sales to a third of the stadium because it would increase the risk of minors accessing alcohol.

Brown also said the stadium was designed to accommodate alcohol vendors, but only in premium seating areas.  Concession stands with the ability to serve alcohol are in areas like the DQ and indoor club rooms, and seats with catered service.

When it was decided that alcohol could not be served, the stadium had to reduce its prices for suites and premium seats, costing the University revenue, Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul said.

In a time when the Legislature is looking at cutting funds for the University, it is vital that ways of generating revenue are looked at, Pappas said.

But the UniversityâÄôs policy on only allowing alcohol to be sold only to premium seats is âÄúhypocrisyâÄù Sen. Linda Scheid, DFL-Brooklyn Park, said.

She said everyone who is of legal age should be able to buy a beer if liquorâÄôs available at the stadium, even if they donâÄôt have premium seats.

For the two decades that the Gophers played at the Metrodome, alcohol was made available to everyone, not just premium seats, Scheid said.

Michel said it should be up to the Board of Regents to decide the policies for University facilities, not the Legislature.

This is the third time in three years that similar legislation has been pushed at the Capitol.