Bruininks recommends “dry” athletic venues

The Board of Regents discussed the proposal on Friday.

The University of Minnesota Board of Regents discussed President Bob BruininksâÄô resolution to make TCF Bank Stadium , Willams Arena and Mariucci Arena alcohol-free during athletic events at their meeting on Friday. Bruininks said at the meeting that the proposal is a result of legislation recently passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty . The University had planned on selling alcohol only to premium seating sections in the new stadium âÄï as is the policy in Williams and Mariucci ArenasâÄï but the legislation requires that either alcohol be sold throughout the venues or not at all. However, third-party vendors can still sell and serve alcohol on non-game days, University Vice President and Chief of Staff Kathryn Brown said. Bruininks said there was âÄúno perfect solution,âÄù but given the two options, he thought making the venues dry was the best choice for an educational institution. âÄúWe think we had the best solution that would help us financially and also be controlled and restricted,âÄù Bruininks said. âÄúBut the Legislature has spoken, and people speak through their legislators, and you have to respect it. They gave us a choice, and we picked the choice that we thought was best for the University.âÄù Michigan and Ohio State are the only other Big Ten schools that do not allow alcohol in premium seating. Deputy General Counsel William Donohue said it was a rare decision by the Legislature. âÄúWith respect to our facilities and other state facilities, this is extraordinarily unusual,âÄù he said. The University intends to relinquish the three liquor licenses if the resolution passes, Donohue said, but the licenses for the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum and Northrop Auditorium are unaffected because the legislation doesnâÄôt apply to them. Athletics Director Joel Maturi said he was disappointed that âÄúthe Legislature felt that they had to get involved in how we at the University of Minnesota run our athletics departmentâÄù but that BruininksâÄôs proposal is the best option. The athletics department is currently working with premium seating ticket holders to discuss options and compensate for the change. Maturi said some options that are being considered are reducing the price, providing additional amenities or providing something pre- or post-game. âÄúWe sold our premium seats on the assumption that they would be able to purchase alcohol,âÄù he said. âÄúWe will share with them what options we believe are available, and hopefully their support of the Gophers and their support of the University of Minnesota athletics is such that weâÄôll be able to move forward.âÄù The financial impact has not been evaluated, Maturi said, but both he and the Board of Regents expressed concern. âÄúThereâÄôs no question itâÄôs going to cost us some money,âÄù Maturi said. âÄúHow much money remains to be seen.âÄù University police Chief Greg Hestness said he was hopeful the original plan to sell alcohol only to premium seats would be in place. Compared to the Metrodome, intoxication in the TCF Bank Stadium will be âÄúgreatly reduced,âÄù Hestness said. He said he doesnâÄôt have concerns that the âÄúdryâÄù venue policy will increase alcohol consumption at tailgating. Police have been preparing for game days for three years and have developed a plan for tailgating enforcement to make sure no one gets out of hand with drinking, Hestness said. Police will also stop intoxicated people from entering the stadium before the game. Bruininks said that any student found to have snuck in alcohol will face penalties, possibly as serious as expulsion. âÄúWeâÄôre not going to tolerate that,âÄù Bruininks said. âÄúThey may try it; if they get caught, theyâÄôre going to have to live with the consequences.âÄù Regents Dean Johnson and Richard Beeson told the Board that after the alcohol-free year the University should try to renegotiate the bill with the Legislature. âÄúI think that is an important relationship,âÄù Beeson said about the University and Legislature. âÄúI donâÄôt think that was intended to punish the University. My sense was that it was done out of an egalitarian sort of approach.âÄù âÄúI choose to believe that, and I think we have to go back, though, and re-explain our reasons, which I think hopefully we can come to some resolution.âÄù The Board of Regents will vote on the resolution at their meeting June 24.