Beer, maybe wine, foreseen at TCF Bank Stadium

  • Article by: JENNA ROSS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 10, 2012 - 1:31 PM

U regents to discuss latest stadium beverage plan this week.

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Alcohol at TCF Bank Stadium has been an issue since it opened.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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The University of Minnesota has a plan for selling beer and wine -- but no hard liquor -- to football fans at Gopher home games.

The U's Board of Regents will discuss and vote this week on a resolution to allow "beer or beer and wine sales" in the premium-seating section of TCF Bank Stadium and in a single "beer garden" during Gopher games. The vote is expected to wrap up years of debate about whether and where alcohol ought to be sold.

"It will be a restricted and controlled environment where they will be very careful about requiring identification, so students will not have access," said regents Chairwoman Linda Cohen.

Under a compromise approved this spring, the Legislature legalized alcohol sales at TCF Stadium during college athletic events, requiring beer to be offered to fans in general seating but allowing for sales to be restricted to a confined area.

The university's new plan, developed by a task force and announced Monday, is consistent with those rules but adds details.

It says that alcohol sales will start an hour before kickoff and stop at the end of halftime. Fans can bring beer back to their seats. No alcohol will be allowed at the Veterans Memorial or on the Tribal Nations Plaza near the west-end gates of the stadium. There will be no hard liquor sales.

"We did draw the line at not selling the hard liquor," Cohen said, citing "a feel about it at a sporting event."

Rules governing alcohol sales at Minnesota Vikings games played at TCF while a new stadium is built are a separate issue that will be resolved later.

Alcohol has always been forbidden at the TCF stadium because lawmakers objected to the university's plan to allow drinking only in the arena's premium seats. With a cry of "beer for one, beer for all," the Legislature banned alcohol sales unless folks in the cheap seats were allowed to drink, too.

The resolution the regents will consider Wednesday rescinds one passed in 2009 that prohibited selling or serving alcohol in TCF Bank Stadium, Mariucci Arena and Williams Arena during college games. It "authorizes the reapplication for liquor licenses" at those two other venues and makes it possible for those venues to sell beer and wine to those fans in some areas.

Cohen said she believes such sales would be "only in the club rooms."

In a news release, the university said it considers the next two years a pilot project and will assess and adjust as it goes along.

It's "a balanced approach offering very limited sales in the general seating area," Amy Phenix, chief of staff for university President Eric Kaler, said in a statement. "First and foremost, we are committed to the safety of students and fans and to being good neighbors."

Staff writer Rachel E. Stassen-Berger contributed to this report. Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168

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