New Year’s show at Northrop won’t include alcohol

Kristin Gustafson

Alcohol will not be sold at Northrop Auditorium on New Year’s Eve even if the University’s liquor license is approved by then.
Although the New Year’s Eve comedy event is the kind University officials envisioned for beer and wine sales, this particular night holds risks the University wants to avoid.
“It’s New Year’s Eve; it is the millennium; it is all these types of things,” said Eric Kruse, vice president for University Services. Kruse is responsible for coordinating alcohol sales. “I would hate to have anything happen that sheds a bad light on us as a result.”
The audience for the New Year’s Eve show — which will include Saturday Night Live guests Dana Carvey, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon and Victoria Jackson, as well as local comedian Scott Hanson — represent the target market for University alcohol sales, Kruse said.
“It is absolutely the type of event that would benefit from having this type of customer service,” Kruse said. “It is an adult event. … If it was in any other venue in town, service would be happening.”
While alcohol will not be served at Northrop’s comedy night, similar events in the next year would be likely candidates, Kruse said.
The University is also still waiting for the state to approve its application. Approval is expected in mid-January.
“If we don’t have a license, we can’t serve,” said Dale Schatzlein, Northrop director.
Germany’s Stuttgart Ballet, appearing Jan. 25 and 26 at Northrop Auditorium, is likely to be the first University event allowing alcohol sales.
“We will decide on an event-by-event basis, so each event that gets booked will have a discussion,” Schatzlein said.
Performing-arts events like those in which the Ordway or Guthrietheaters would typically sell alcohol are those the University will target to do the same, Schatzlein said.
Criteria for popular concerts would be based on the average age of patrons. Alcohol would not be sold at commencements, lectures or other academic events.
Schatzlein supports alcohol sales for events the University deems appropriate.
“There are colleges across this whole country that serve alcohol. … Many, many colleges have this … and it is kind of a nonevent and no big deal,” Schatzlein said.
A rare 7-3 Board of Regents vote in mid-November exempted Northrop from a University policy prohibiting campus alcohol sales for one year.
The exemption is limited to Northrop, and the University has no plans to expand alcohol sales to other areas of campus, Kruse said.
Divisions among regents and others occurred because selling alcohol on campus was a new concept, Schatzlein said.
Those supporting the change, including University President Mark Yudof, argued that alcohol sales would increase Northrop’s marketability and profits.
Sales are expected to increase Northrop’s annual $1.5 million revenue by $100,000, according to University officials. Those revenues would then support a $20 million renovation of the 4,800-seat auditorium.
But the three regents opposing the measure cited money as poor rationale for introducing alcohol to campus events.
Jim Farrell, a University alumnus and liquor-industry representative, lobbied against the measure in a letter to regents, citing University self-policing and underage access as his primary concerns.
But Heidi Frederickson, student regent representatives’ chairwoman, said students support the plan.
The average undergraduate student is older than 21 — the legal drinking age in Minnesota — and the average age of the entire student body is in the mid-20s.
After the board approved the one-year exemption, Kruse applied for a state liquor license and liquor insurance as well as beginning alcohol-awareness training for Northrop’s staff.
“It’s a matter of getting all the bureaucratic things done right now,” Kruse said.

Kristin Gustafson covers University administration and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3211.