As indicated, the University of Minnesota will maintain current restrictions on the sale of alcohol in licensed properties like TCF Bank Stadium despite a new law allowing them to do otherwise under certain conditions.
The University’s Board of Regents announced Friday the legislation, signed into law in late May, “would not impact University policy regarding alcohol sales,” according to a statement from administration officials. The new law requires the University to provide alcohol in only one-third of general seating in order to provide it in premium areas.
The new legislation was the third attempt by lawmakers this session to change the restrictions. It was proposed in the House, which had previously opposed any change in the law.
Restrictions from 2009, also originating in the House, required alcohol to be sold everywhere or nowhere. The Board of Regents opted to make all the University’s sports facilities “dry,” changing the longstanding practice of providing alcohol in premium seating at Mariucci Arena and Williams Arena.
Sen. Sandra Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, part of the bill’s conference committee, said she wished the University had not come to a decision so quickly. Pappas proposed the first round of Legislation on the subject in March that would have repealed the ban completely.
Pappas, chairwoman of the Senate Higher Education Committee, called the new law a “reasonable compromise.”
University administrators view the issue differently.
President Bob Bruininks said in the statement he appreciated the Legislature’s efforts, but added, “[T]he university did not seek out this legislative change and has been very clear that it was never our intent to provide alcohol in the general seating areas of our athletic venues.”
The University athletics department loses an estimated $1.3 million from the lack of alcohol sales yearly, but the figure could be much higher.
Despite the losses, officials argue providing alcohol in general seating is not the norm in the Big Ten Conference.
Two schools in the conference, including the University, do not serve any alcohol in sports facilities, according to the statement. The others serve it in premium seating areas, but not in general ones.
“We have the well-being of our student and community to consider,” Regents Chairman Clyde Allen said in the statement. “This new law does not change the board’s strong conviction that we will not be selling alcohol in general seating areas.”
Included in the legislation was a provision requiring profits from actual alcohol sales to go into a scholarship fund.
Pappas is confident the legislation will return.
“I’m sorry the Regents made such a quick decision,” Pappas said. “I think this will be back next year.”