Legislator seeks to reinstate alcohol at football games

The bill gives two options, but Regents are unlikely to sell alcohol throughout the stadium.

After the University of MinnesotaâÄôs Board of Regents passed the alcohol-free policy for athletic venues last week, a state lawmaker announced that he will introduce a bill at the start of the next legislative session to reinstate alcohol sales at TCF Bank Stadium. Rep. Patrick Garofalo, R-Farmington , said a scholarship for disabled veterans would be created in his proposed legislation and the University would have a choice of funding it in one of two ways. The money could come from the profits of alcohol sales from all seats at the new stadium or from the administrative budget. He supported the original legislation because he wants all fans to have equal access and thought the University should have chosen to sell alcohol. âÄúEspecially given the budget crisis, this is a way to get people to voluntarily give the University hundreds of thousands of dollars,âÄù Garofalo said. âÄúWhy would you be against that?âÄù He said heâÄôs confident it will pass and thinks, given the two options, the University will choose to sell alcohol throughout the football stadium. âÄúItâÄôs going to be the same as the last 26 years when the Gophers were playing at the Metrodome,âÄù Garofalo said. âÄúThe only thing thatâÄôs changing is where theyâÄôre playing football.âÄù Although the Board of Regents did not have an official statement, Regent David Larson said he thinks the Board would only choose to reinstate alcohol sales if it applied only to premium seating sections, not to the entire stadium. âÄúWe were not planning on making any significant amount of money on the sale of beverages,âÄù he said. âÄúThe money was going to be made from the renting of the suites.âÄù General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said it is too early to know the impact of the legislation as the details of the proposed bill are unclear. The Regents, he said, are elected and act as the governing body of the University, and therefore believe they should decide the terms of alcohol sales. âÄúThey believe theyâÄôre in the best position to make calls on whether alcohol should be served throughout stadiums and arenas on our campus,âÄù said Rotenberg. He said the proposed bill does not address two key issues: The Regents would not want to sell alcohol in locations where there are people under 21, and itâÄôs unclear whether the legislation would use the profits only from sales of alcohol, or also the income from selling premium seats. âÄúThe University is not concerned with the loss in revenue with not being able to sell alcohol,âÄù Rotenberg said. âÄúItâÄôs the possible loss in support from those who have premium seat locations and who give the University substantial funding year after year.âÄù As for the option of taking funds from the administrative budget, Rotenberg said there has been a clear focus by the Board to increase scholarship funds as part of the fundraising activities related to the stadium. Not all premium seat ticket holders mind the change. Gary Beckmann has a ticket to a four-person suite on the lower level and has had premium seats at both Williams and Mariucci Arenas. âÄúI understand some fans may not like it, and they do want to have some alcohol, [but] I felt the U made the appropriate choice and I wish that all fans would be supportive,âÄù he said. Garofalo said legal-aged fans have the right to buy alcohol if they choose. âÄúThey trusted the taxpayers of the state to pay for the stadium,âÄù he said. âÄúThey can trust the taxpayers to have a beer at a football game.âÄù Williams and Mariucci Arenas would not apply to the bill. He said the profits wouldnâÄôt go to the athletics department as in previous years because making college more affordable for disabled veterans is a higher priority. Garofalo said if the University changes the âÄúdryâÄù policy within the academic year and begins selling alcohol throughout the stadium, he would reconsider introducing the bill.