Fans could get more fresh air

With more game days this fall, eateries want more time to serve outside their walls.

Tyler Gieseke

In preparation for the Minnesota Vikings playing home games at TCF Bank Stadium next season, restaurants want to expand how often they can sell food and liquor outside normal locations.

City code currently lets restaurants expand the area where they can serve food and alcohol for up to 12 days a year, allowing them to serve customers in normally off-limits places, like parking lots. But some businesses in the University of Minnesota area say that’s not enough days to cover Gophers games, Vikings games and other events.

At a council meeting Friday, Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, who represents some University-area neighborhoods, introduced a proposal to increase the number of days restaurants can expand. Stadium Village businesses had asked him for an increase.

The Stadium Village Commercial Association is asking the city to allow 25 expansion days.

“That number was just to kind of [encompass] any event that could possibly happen,” said Joe Walvoord, Stadium Village Commercial Association president. “Anytime we ever want to expand, we have to be able to get that permit.”

Walvoord said Gordon’s proposal is a win-win for patrons and businesses because it would give customers increased access and boost restaurants’ revenue.

“A lot of these guys, if they have good-sized parking lots, they can double the size of their property,” he said. “It makes business sense, obviously, to do that.”

Gordon said he intends to include businesses citywide in the ordinance change, in accordance with the current code. If City Council members voice opposition, he said, he would be willing to limit the change to just the area around TCF Bank Stadium.

About half a dozen Stadium Village businesses, including Buffalo Wild Wings and Campus Pizza, occasionally apply for city permission to expand during football games or concert events like Spring Jam, Walvoord said.

Establishments must own the property where they’re expanding sales, Walvoord said. Not all Stadium Village businesses have additional space. Still, he said, the group’s board unanimously supports the change.

“It just gives the people that do have more real estate [the chance] to expand into those areas,” he said.

Gordon said he thinks the measure will pass through City Council without major opposition, but council members may be concerned about an increase in loud, outdoor drinking.

Walvoord said he doesn’t expect any pushback on approving the change.

The Community Development and Regulatory Services Committee will review Gordon’s proposal, City Council President Barbara Johnson said Friday. It’s still uncertain when the proposal will have its first public hearing.