GOP delegates can drink ’til dawn

  • Article by: CHRIS HAVENS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 26, 2008 - 12:36 AM

The St. Paul City Council set strict requirements for bars that want to stay open until 4 a.m. during the convention. Some 32 bars now meet those requirements.

Folks in St. Paul during the Republican National Convention will be able to drink at some bars until 4 a.m.

Emphasis on some.

The St. Paul City Council on Wednesday voted 6 to 1 to approve an ordinance that will allow bars that meet certain conditions and pay $2,500 to stay open late during the four nights of the event, to be held Sept. 1-4 at the Xcel Energy Center.

About 32 bars, maybe more if they can find a way to add more seats, are eligible. There are 257 places that sell liquor, wine and beer in the city. About 90 currently have licenses to stay open until 2 a.m.

Bars must already have a 2 a.m. closing license to be eligible, and they must have at least 291 seats or be in downtown or commercial development districts, such as Selby-Dale.

If a bar without a 4 a.m. license is caught serving after 2 a.m., it faces a $2,000 fine per incident.

The restrictions were put in place to reduce the number of neighborhood bars staying open late.

"It's a good compromise," Council President Kathy Lantry said. Those restrictions, she said, will help keep police from being stretched across the city, and the fee will help the city recover added costs.

There were no toasts, just a quick and quiet vote. Council Member Lee Helgen was the lone dissenter.

The Legislature gave metro-area cities the authority to allow bars to remain open until 4 a.m. during the convention, action that came after the council had voted 4 to 3 against an earlier proposal.

Mayor Chris Coleman's office urged the council to reconsider, saying that St. Paul businesses would be at a competitive disadvantage if they couldn't stay open until 4 a.m.

Minneapolis approved a resolution last week allowing bars in the downtown area and hotels to stay open until 4 a.m. for a $2,500 fee.

The Bloomington City Council is expected to take up the matter in July.

Chris Havens • 651-298-1542

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