University to continue alcohol restrictions

Despite a law allowing the University to sell liquor under certain circumstances, officials announced the continued ban Friday.

by James Nord

As indicated, the University of Minnesota will maintain current restrictions on the sale of alcohol in licensed properties like TCF Bank Stadium despite a new law allowing them to do otherwise under certain conditions. The UniversityâÄôs Board of Regents announced Friday the legislation, signed into law in late May, âÄúwould not impact University policy regarding alcohol sales,âÄù according to a statement from administration officials. The new law requires the University to provide alcohol in only one-third of general seating in order to provide it in premium areas. The new legislation was the third attempt by lawmakers this session to change the restrictions. It was proposed in the House, which had previously opposed any change in the law. Restrictions from 2009, also originating in the House, required alcohol to be sold everywhere or nowhere. The Board of Regents opted to make all the UniversityâÄôs sports facilities âÄúdry,âÄù changing the longstanding practice of providing alcohol in premium seating at Mariucci Arena and Williams Arena. Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, part of the billâÄôs conference committee, said she wished the University had not come to a decision so quickly. Pappas proposed the first round of Legislation on the subject in March that would have repealed the ban completely. Pappas, chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, called the new law a âÄúreasonable compromise.âÄù University administrators view the issue differently. President Bob Bruininks said in the statement he appreciated the LegislatureâÄôs efforts, but added, âÄú[T]he university did not seek out this legislative change and has been very clear that it was never our intent to provide alcohol in the general seating areas of our athletic venues.âÄù The University athletics department loses an estimated $1.3 million from the lack of alcohol sales yearly, but the figure could be much higher. Despite the losses, officials argue providing alcohol in general seating is not the norm in the Big Ten Conference. Two schools in the conference, including the University, do not serve any alcohol in sports facilities, according to the statement. The others serve it in premium seating areas, but not in general ones. âÄúWe have the well-being of our student and community to consider,âÄù Regents Chairman Clyde Allen said in the statement. âÄúThis new law does not change the boardâÄôs strong conviction that we will not be selling alcohol in general seating areas.âÄù Included in the legislation was a provision requiring profits from actual alcohol sales to go into a scholarship fund. Pappas is confident the legislation will return. âÄúIâÄôm sorry the Regents made such a quick decision,âÄù Pappas said. âÄúI think this will be back next year.âÄù