Sandra Pappas guides bill giving the U of M another shot at TCF stadium booze


The University of Minnesota may get another shot at serving alcohol to preferred patrons at TCF Bank Stadium under a bill being moved through the Legislature by DFL state Sen. Sandra Pappas of St. Paul.

SF3180 would allow the university to serve alcohol at the stadium, provided it obtains the right license, and as long as it agrees to fund a scholarship account with the proceeds, she said today after it cleared the the Senate Finance Committee's Higher Education Budget and Policy division.

Last year, the Legislature told the university it could have a liquor license for the brand new stadium only if it allowed sales to everyone, not just patrons in exclusive club boxes, after a populist outcry.

Pappas said she thinks that issue has blown over, and has been replaced with a sense that the Legislature needed to do something to help the university generate some revenue in the wake of state funding cutbacks.

Between lost sales, as well as lost revenue from potential corporate clients backing out of ticket deals because they couldn't serve their clients booze, the university was out more than $1 million last year because of the "all or nothing" rule, she said.

The bill that passed committee today contains no liquor sales restrictions, she said. It's chief requirement, other than making sure the university has a proper liquor license before it sells booze, is that revenue from liquor sales go to fund athletic scholarships.

Pappas said the bill is now in the hands of the hands of the Senate Finance Committee, where it hasn't been scheduled yet for a hearing.

There's no companion bill in the House, and Pappas said it's likely that the legislation will be tacked to a different higher education bill. That bill would have to clear the House Higher Education Committee, which is chaired by DFL Rep. Tom Rukavina, of Virginia.

Rukavina, who is running for governor, was the driving force behind the original all-or-nothing law.

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