Alcohol sales bill passes Senate committee

The bill would allow the University to decide where to sell alcohol in its licensed facilities.

by James Nord

A bill giving the University of Minnesota control over who gets to buy liquor in its sports facilities unanimously passed through an important Senate committee on Tuesday. The bill is meant to ease the UniversityâÄôs budget troubles, further exacerbated by a $36 million cut from the Legislature on Monday, Senate higher education committee chairwoman Sandra Pappas said. âÄúIn these times when we are cutting [the] University of MinnesotaâÄôs budget by $36 million, it behooves us not to take away other revenue streams,âÄù Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, said. Under the existing law, alcohol can only be sold on an all-or-nothing basis in TCF Bank Stadium and Williams and Mariucci Arenas, a departure from the previous practice âÄî selling or serving it exclusively in premium seating areas. The University estimates it faces a yearly loss ranging from $1 million to $2 million in terms of premium seating. Losses related to actual alcohol sales only add up to about $200,000 yearly. Sen. Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said it isnâÄôt the LegislatureâÄôs job to micromanage the Board of Regents of the University. If approved, the money made from alcohol sales would go toward an athletics scholarship fund. The bill now moves to the Senate Finance Committee. Since there is no companion bill in the House of Representatives, Pappas said she would insert the provision into a higher education policy bill. That bill must be approved by the House higher education committee, which is headed by Rep. Tom Rukavina, who originally proposed the all-or-nothing restriction.