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Big House halfway to being ‘beerable’ for Red Wings-Maple Leafs Winter Classic

Via RedWingsFeed, it won’t necessarily warm fans up, but the most important fan lubricant to be sold at the Winter Classic is halfway to becoming kosher with the State of Michigan, as reported by the Detroit News...

The Michigan House has voted to let hockey fans buy booze at Michigan Stadium when the home of Wolverines’ football hosts a game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day.

Scio Township Republican state Rep. Mark Ouimet sponsored the bill that won House approval Thursday. It now goes to the state Senate.

The outdoor NHL Winter Classic game is scheduled Jan. 1, 2013. The league made the sale of alcohol a condition of approving the venue.

And as also reported by the Detroit Free Press, which offers the same text, and MLive’s Tim Martin:

State lawmakers appear to be on board with a plan to temporarily allow alcohol sales at Michigan Stadium when the Detroit Red Wings face the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s Winter Classic.

The Michigan House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation that would allow a temporary liquor license connected to the Jan. 1, 2013 game. Organizers are hoping the outdoor contest between two old NHL rivals will easily draw more than 100,000 and possibly set a world record for hockey attendance.

The bill next goes to the Michigan Senate for its consideration. Lawmakers say the NHL agreed to rent the Ann Arbor stadium known as ‘The Big House’ on the condition that alcohol could be served, so approval of the legislation is significant in that regard.

“The NHL’s Winter Classic has quickly become a premier event in the sporting world, and it promises to have a tremendous economic benefit for the entire area,” said Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township and a sponsor of the legislation allowing the liquor license. “More than 100,000 people will contribute to our local economy by patronizing our restaurants, staying in our hotels and purchasing other goods and services.”

Update: Take the rest of this political blather, from AnnArbor.com’s Kellie Woodhouse, as you will:

“The NHL views it as an important element to the success of the event,” said Rep. Mark Ouimet, R-Scio Township, who introduced the measure earlier this month. Ouimet said the NHL relies on revenue garnered from alcohol sales. “They have to duplicate the opportunity they would have in their own arenas,” he told AnnAarbor.com.

U-M originally intended to use one of 12 special one-day liquor licenses it’s granted each year, but school officials discovered the temporary licenses aren’t applicable to large crowds like the one expected at the stadium on Jan 1, 2013. In response, Ouimet proposed HB 5611, which passed the House today with bipartisan support.

“From an economic development standpoint, the amount of people this will bring to southeastern Michigan for the events leading up to the game and the game is going to be a real boon to the area,” Ouimet said.

According to [University of Michigan athletic director David] Brandon, the typical home football game generates between $14 and $15 million in business for area hotels, restaurants and merchants.

“This I actually would suggest would be greater,” Brandon said in February, explaining that a national event will bring more outsiders into Ann Arbor and that a noon start would likely force them to stay the night.

Ann Arbor Councilwoman Margie Teall, who lives in Burns Park near the stadium, said “residents are concerned” about having alcohol at Michigan Stadium.

“I am just hoping concessionaires will be sensitive to how much people are drinking,” Teall said. “The concern for all of us in the city is that you’re serving this many people liquor and they’re going to get in their cars and drive somewhere.”

University spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said the 30-day liquor license “doesn’t change anything” and that Michigan Stadium will remain dry. Ouimet said he doesn’t expect alcohol sales to create a problem during the event.

“It will certainly be in a controlled environment,” he said. “There is certainly alcohol outside the stadium for home football games. I think the alcohol consumption would move inside a closed area.”

Dear Margie Teall: I lived in Ann Arbor for nine years, and spent six of them within shouting distance of Michigan Stadium. Trust me, just because Michigan Stadium doesn’t sell beer does not reflect the status of tens of thousands of football fans as, “Serious-ass drunk” on every football Saturday. And some of them get in their cars and drive places, which is why the U both employs their own police force and the City of Ann Arbor to ensure that the invariably drunk don’t get very far.

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RWBill's avatar

Just out of curiosity, if alcohol sales were defeated, not approved, would the NHL actually move the venue, to, say, Comerica Park?  If that is a condtion of hosting the Winter Classic, would they move?  I think the attendance record and holding it at Michigan Stadium would garner more publicity and good will then beer sales for one day would be worth.  Granted, that could be a lot of beer sales, but at a potential 18 degrees F that’s also a lot of bladder pressure.

Posted by RWBill on 05/24/12 at 08:35 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

There will be very little to no opposition to the exemption.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 05/24/12 at 08:45 PM ET

WingedRider's avatar

Will they have higher Alcohol Canadian Beer for Leaf Fans, they will need it?

Please Oct get here fast!

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 05/24/12 at 09:00 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.