Regents approve alcohol at Northrop, Les Bolstad

A license was also approved for the University of Minnesota Morris student center.

Janice Bitters

The University of Minnesota may soon be able to sell alcohol at three new locations system-wide after Board of Regents approval on July 10.

The Les Bolstad Golf Course, Northrop Memorial Auditorium and the University of Minnesota-Morris campus student center  were all approved to sell alcohol on-site.

Northrop was allowed to sell alcohol on-site until 2011, when the license was not renewed because the building was under construction.

During the 11 years Northrop held its liquor license, the facility showed it had controls in place to prevent selling alcohol to minors, which is a major factor in the approval process, said Amy Phenix, University President Eric Kaler’s  chief of staff.

Even after being approved by the regents, the three new liquor licenses aren’t a guarantee yet. All facilities that want to sell liquor, including the University, must apply through the state.

Each University group that applied for a license had to submit an application to the University’s Alcohol License Oversight Committee, which ensures each facility serving alcohol on campus follows the same rules and regulations.

Only the application submitted by Coffman Union was not recommended for board approval.

“Our committee felt the Coffman application needed more study,” said Leslie Bowman, executive director of contract administration  and a member of the approval committee. “They did a wonderful job of preparing the application, but … there were concerns about serving alcohol in a student union.”

The committee also had questions about whether Coffman would be able to financially support the cost of selling alcohol, Bowman said.

Maggie Towle,  director of Student Unions and Activities on the Twin Cities campus, said she didn’t expect the Coffman application to be recommended to the regents.

“[The application] was really just a message that we are interested,” she said. “We still needed to gauge student interest, including graduate and professional students.”

If the student union applies again, Towle said, Goldy’s Gameroom and the Whole Music Club are possible areas in Coffman that could benefit from alcohol sales.

Approaching the limit

The Alcohol License Oversight Committee has a reason to be selective in their approval process for alcohol licenses on campus.

The University is allowed nine alcohol licenses system-wide, according to state law. Currently, the University holds licenses  for TCF Bank Stadium, Williams and Mariucci arenas and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.

If the three facilities that were approved to apply for liquor licenses this year are also granted licenses by the state, only two more licenses will be available for the entire University system.

To date, only the Twin Cities and Morris campuses have received regents’ approval for liquor licenses at their buildings.

The University doesn’t plan to request more licenses from the Legislature until need is expressed by more than nine facilities, Bowman said.

Despite the limited number of licenses available, several regents voiced concern that other campus facilities had not applied for alcohol licenses. Regent Patricia Simmons  specifically mentioned the Weisman Art Museum.

“I noticed that the Weisman is not on the list of the people requesting,” she said. “And I’m sort of surprised because arts venues tend to entertain, including alcohol, and they have so many private events.”

But Bowman said she isn’t surprised the art museum didn’t apply for a license because it has existing agreements with caterers who can serve alcohol.

“The applications that we looked at didn’t seem to have good alternatives to serve alcohol in a different way,” she said. “We want it to be something that enhances the venue.”