ST. PAUL, Minn. -- A senate committee gave a thumbs-up Tuesday to allowing the University of Minnesota to sell alcohol in some areas of the TCF Bank Stadium.
A bill, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Pappas, D-Saint Paul, would repeal the language in current state law that prohibits the U from selling liquor in premium seating unless it is offered in all areas of the venue.
"This has caused a financial hardship," Pappas said, "In the sense that the university has lost between $1 million and $1.3 million in the last year in scholarships."
The bill also requires all profits generated from the sale of liquor at the stadium site to be used for athletic scholarships at the U of M.
The measure cleared the Higher Education Budget subcommittee, and now goes to the full Finance Committee for consideration. Pappas, however, indicates she willl try to put the change on the fast track by getting the same language added to the Higher Education Omnibus Bill which is already pending on the Senate floor.
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents and the University Administration are opposed to any change in the liquor regulations on campus, unless the Board has the ability to limit the sale of alcohol to certain areas.
"The Regents feel very strongly they don't want to have liquor in the general stadium, none of the Big 10 universities do," Pappas remarked, "And but it would not be available in the stadium at large."
She said there would still be opportunities for college students of legal drinking age to have alcohol at tailgate parties, campus bars or fraternity houses.
"Even though some of us may not agree with the Regents' decision, I think in these times when we are cutting the University of Minnesota's budget by $36 million, it behooves us not to take away other revenue streams."
Sen. Geoff Michel, R - Edina, pointed out that the state has made a substantial investment in the U of M campus.
"To take away or block off certain revenue streams, it's actually hurting our own taxpayer investment," Michel remarked.
State law currently requires the university to sell alcohol throughout the stadium or not at all. University regents voted to ban alcohol throughout the new stadium last year after the legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty passed the law.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)