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Liquor for Gophers fans?

Published (6/1/2010)
By Nick Busse
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Alcoholic beverages would be available, with restrictions, at University of Minnesota sports events — if the university agrees.

Effective May 26, 2010, a new law will give the university greater discretion to sell alcoholic beverages at its sports arenas, including the TCF Bank Stadium.  It states that alcoholic beverages may be sold in premium seating areas as long as they are also sold in at least one-third of the general seating areas too.

The law is meant to resolve an ongoing dispute between the university’s administration and the Legislature. The university wants to allow liquor sales only in the club seats of its facilities and argues other Big Ten schools have the same policy. Some lawmakers consider this “elitist,” and last year the House voted overwhelmingly to require the university to either sell liquor in all seating areas or not at all.

In response, the university doesn’t sell liquor at the stadium or Mariucci and Williams arenas, and claims that as a result, it has lost more than $1 million in revenue. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL-Inver Grove Heights) and Sen. Linda Scheid (DFL-Brooklyn Park), the new law is intended to, in Atkins’ words, “extend an olive branch” to the university in an attempt to find common ground on the issue.

The law gives the university’s Board of Regents discretion on how to achieve the one-third requirement for the general seating areas. At least 75 percent of the revenue generated from liquor sales would go to student scholarships, under the provisions.

The law also provides for technical changes affecting the Department of Commerce’s market assurance and consumer protection activities. Many of the provisions merely conform to changes made in other laws; others include eliminating redundancies in statutes. Atkins added the language on university liquor sales as an amendment on the House floor.

A separate provision, also added as an amendment by Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) on the House floor, will allow health plans to offer flexible benefits to individuals and small businesses with up to 100 employees. Currently, only businesses with up to 50 employees are allowed to offer flexible benefits. The change is effective Jan. 1, 2012.

HF2942/ SF2839*/CH384

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