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Northrop Auditorium at the University of Minnesota in 2011.

Bruce Bisping, Dml - Star Tribune

University of Minnesota regents give OK to seek expanded alcohol service

  • Article by: Lydia Coutré
  • Star Tribune
  • July 10, 2013 - 7:14 PM

 

The University of Minnesota is preparing to serve up alcohol at more places around campus, but students aren’t likely to see much difference.

The Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a resolution supporting liquor licenses for Northrop Auditorium, Les Bolstad Golf Course and the Morris Student Center. After less than 10 minutes of discussion, a unanimous vote cleared the way for the three facilities to each apply to the state for one of the U’s nine liquor licenses.

“I think it makes good business sense to have alcohol served to adults in entertainment venues … where we’re charging market prices for admission and sometimes additional cost for premium seats,” said Richard Beeson, Board of Regents chair. “It’s an expectation in entertainment to have both food and alcohol served.”

The Alcohol License Oversight Committee, established to ensure a thorough process for evaluating venues, reviewed four applications, ultimately recommending the three that were approved.

Not recommended or approved was the Coffman Memorial Union.

“Deciding to sell and serve [alcohol] in a building that is entirely dedicated to our student population and that is located within blocks of both Dinkytown and Stadium Village that have a significant number of bars and opportunities to purchase alcohol felt like a bigger decision,” said Amy Phenix, the president’s chief of staff who presented the resolution to the board. “It is a building that we really think of as a student space.”

It wasn’t a flat no, said committee Chair Leslie Bowman. The committee felt like it needed more information.

“And there’s concern about just making alcohol more available to students,” Bowman said. “Certainly they’d have to be students of age, but there has not been a lot of research about having drinking establishments on campus and whether or not that does or does not contribute to drinking.”

Most patrons aren’t students

While the venues that were approved are on campus, many of their patrons aren’t students.

The Morris Student Center will only sell alcohol for non-student events. Without a license, it has been difficult for the school to find external catering to provide alcohol for events on campus.

“As a result, they potentially lose external bookings and sources of revenue,” Phenix said. “Giving the University of Minnesota Morris the ability to provide sales and services at this venue will allow the college to host more events and be a stronger community asset.”

Northrop will sell beer and wine from concession stands during events, and a full bar will be available for catered events. Northrop held a liquor license from 2000 to 2011, before renovations, with no problems, Bowman said.

Being able to sell alcohol where patrons frequent concerts and dances gives the venue a competitive advantage.

Similarly, the golf course made a strong argument for the competitiveness of selling alcohol. “Customers expect to be able to get a beer when they golf,” Bowman said.

The U currently holds liquor licenses for TCF Bank Stadium, Williams Arena, Mariucci Arena and the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. State law authorizes the Board of Regents to hold liquor licenses for nine on-campus locations. The remaining two will be up for grabs when the Alcohol License Oversight Committee accepts applications again next year.

 

Lydia Coutré • 612-673-4654

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