The Laramie City Council did not approve the application for a special liquor license for sale of beer and wine at University of Wyoming sports games, but alcohol will still be served in the short term.
On Tuesday’s regular session of the City Council, Roxie Hensley, owner of Roxie’s on Grand, put forward applications for a special liquor license to serve beer and wine at the University of Wyoming Arena-Auditorium and War Memorial Stadium. On a vote of 4-5, the applications were turned down.
Hensley said the applications were based on the council’s recommendation from the previous year when it amended the city’s laws on liquor licenses. Councilman Dave Paulekas said this was his understanding also. The previous system had been onerous, Councilwoman Phoebe Stoner said, as Hensley’s company would have to apply for a permit at vending sites for each game. So, four permits per game at the arena and seven permits per game at the stadium were granted. Laramie City Clerk Nancy Bartholomew said denying the permit does not prevent the sale of alcohol completely — just the process necessary to go through the old way.
Stoner said the sticking point for her was the exclusive use granting a year-long permit would mean. While she did not like the old, cumbersome system, she said she would vote “no” because of the exclusive use issue. Bartholomew said the law does not allow for two liquor licenses to serve beer and wine in the same location. If the City Council granted one that covered the entire stadium, only the owner of the license could serve alcohol at the location.
Mayor Andi Summerville said it was why she was voting “no” on the application also. She said she was not comfortable giving one business sole use of a public venue. If a special event other than a game were to take place there, organizers should have the option of choosing which vendor they wanted.
The contract was supposed to include language like that, said Bill Sparks, senior associate athletics director of business operations at the University of Wyoming. He said the original request for proposal included exclusive rights to sell beer and wine at the locations. The contract, Sparks said, would be modified to give Hensley’s company that right.
Summerville said she was still going to vote “no” but would change her mind if the applications were to come forward again with the changed contract. Stoner said she would do the same.
Councilman Pat Gabriel said it was his understanding the UW Board of Trustees intended for alcohol to only to be sold at sporting events. Bartholomew said she was not aware of any special liquor license permit for any event at the arena or stadium besides sports games in the past two years.
Vice Mayor Jayne Pearce said she voted against the application because allowing it would cause the city of Laramie would lose $10,000 compared to the previous system. Paulekas said to vote “no” on a perfectly legal application like this to earn more money was unethical.
While he voted “yes,” Councilman Klaus Hanson was concerned about the amount of alcohol being served and drunk driving. He said he wouldn’t vote against the license, but he would like to see a stricter limit set. Councilman Joe Shumway said he also had concerns about drunk driving after sporting games. Gabriel said there were several ways to get home without driving yourself, including ride share services such as Uber. But Shumway said by his estimation, about 2,000 people would leave a basketball game too inebriated to drive. He said he did not think there is enough transportation available for all those people and some would drive drunk.