McNamara to serve alcohol, food outside

Game day events will be tailored to alumni.

by Tara Bannow

A lot has changed in the 37 years since University of Minnesota alumnus Tom LaSalle left campus. On Saturday, the former president of the Alumni Association will return for the first on-campus football game in nearly three decades; and beforehand, heâÄôll stop and have a drink on the lawn of the McNamara Alumni Center . Having recently received the go-ahead from the Minneapolis City Council to serve alcohol outside its doors, the Alumni Center will host free game day parties on its plaza before and after Gopher football games. Three hours prior to kickoff and one hour after the games end, the center will offer alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, food, live music and a âÄúfamily fun zone,âÄù that will include a football toss for children. Each football game will be broadcast on a screen inside the building for people to watch free of charge. The decision to apply for the permit was a year in the making, and was finally pushed forward by requests from University alumni, Jim Heinz , the centerâÄôs general manager, said. âÄúWe started feeling that the inside of our building probably wouldnâÄôt hold everybody,âÄù he said. While all are welcome to attend, Heinz said he expects the crowd will be mostly alumni. He anticipates seeing a lot of season ticket holders and out-of-towners anxious for the on-campus game day experience. All proceeds from the sales will go to the University Gateway Corporation , a partnership between the Alumni Association , the University of Minnesota Foundation and the Minnesota Medical Foundation . The corporation funnels its money back into campus improvements, and in the past has constructed such University landmarks as the Wall of Discovery , Scholars Walk and landscaping on the McNamara Plaza . The Alumni Center applied for the permit âÄî officially called a permanent expansion of premises âÄî in late spring and received approval August 14. Some Stadium Village businesses are in the process of seeking similar licenses which would allow them to serve outside their walls an unlimited number of times. Nancy Rose Pribyl , president of the Stadium Village Business Association, said she doesnâÄôt see a conflict in both the Alumni Center and nearby bars and restaurants serving outside, as theyâÄôre catering to different crowds. âÄúI certainly think there are enough people to go around,âÄù she said. Jim Rosvold , owner of Campus Pizza, agreed. âÄúI see it more contributing to the festive atmosphere of Stadium Village,âÄù he said. The center had already applied for the permit prior to the Board of Regents June 24 decision to ban alcohol in the TCF Bank Stadium , a decision that includes premium seating, Heinz said. While itâÄôs difficult to say whether the centerâÄôs pre- and post-game events will retain premium seat holders upset over the ban, most are likely alumni who planned on visiting the plaza regardless, he said. With nearly 28 years since the last football game on campus, Heinz said itâÄôll be a learning experience for everyone with regard to finding out where the crowds will eat, drink and roam. âÄúWeâÄôre going to all be a lot smarter on September 13 after weâÄôve got one game under our belts,âÄù he said.