House votes to keep alcohol out of premium seats unless the rest of the U of M football fans can imbibe.
When it comes to drinking in premium seats at college football games, the Minnesota House on Monday continued to just say no.
The House rejected a Senate-approved plan that would authorize the sale of alcohol to fans sitting in premium seats at the University of Minnesota's TCF Bank Stadium.
The House also overwhelmingly defeated a move to allow a similar alcohol sales plan in Williams and Mariucci arenas.
The disputed legislation will now go to a House-Senate conference committee.
State law says alcohol should either be sold throughout the stadium and arenas or not all. Faced with that choice, University officials banned sales everywhere.
The alcohol sales issue was a provision in a higher education bill that passed 98-31.
The Senate this year voted 41-20 against an effort to make alcohol available throughout the stadium. Some senators argued that allowing stadium-wide liquor sales would lead to public safety problems and put the university at odds with the policies of other Big Ten schools.
"I think that it's a poor idea," Sen. Claire Robling, R-Jordan, said at the time.
But the Senate's decision to amend the law to allow sale of alcohol in some areas of the stadium was viewed as "elitist" by some House members, including Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, who sponsored the House version of the higher education bill.
Jim Erickson, a longtime lobbyist representing Friends of Gopher Sports, bristled at that suggestion, calling it "faux populism."
"No Big Ten university allows alcohol in the general seating," Erickson said "The sensible option is to allow the regents to have control over liquor policy at the university, to stop micromanaging," he said.
Erickson said the University of Minnesota needs alcohol sales in premium seating areas of the stadium to generate money to compete with other schools.
He said eight schools in the Big Ten allow alcohol in premium seats, and predicted that "the conference committee will take the sensible approach and allow the regents to do it only in the premium seats."
Pat Doyle • 651-222-1210