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City council approves McKale Center liquor license

Posted at 9:14 PM, Dec 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-06 06:52:21-05

Arizona basketball fans may soon be able to buy beer and wine while attending basketball games at McKale Center.

On Tuesday night the Tucson City Council voted 5-1 to approve the liquor license.

The UA athletics department applied in October. Approval from city leaders means the university is one step further in the process.

Joel Hauff, the associate vice president of student affairs for the University of Arizona, says now the application will be forwarded to state officials for final approval.

UA athletic officials have said the decision to serve alcohol is about enhancing the fan experience and not about bringing in revenue. Hauff says that according to some national data, schools have actually initially lost money to pay for things like extra security and infrastructure. 

Alcohol at UA athletic events is nothing new. The UA has been selling alcohol at Hi Corbett Field since 2012 and in private areas of Arizona Stadium. Alcohol would be sold at McKale by a third party vendor, but details are still unclear.

Hauff says it is part of a growing trend across the country. The athletic department will pay for additional security, but Hauff told the council Tuesday night that alcohol has not been an issue at other sporting events.

Hauff said they would stop serving alcohol after the first timeout in the second period and extra security would be brought in and paid for by the athletic department.

San Diego State and Colorado State are two other West Coast schools that serve alcohol at games.

Judith Blair attended the meeting because she disagrees with the idea and said it goes against the origins of the game. Blair says the UA basketball program already has a negative publicity because of the ongoing FBI investigation.

"The two motivations I could see were profit and pleasure," Blair said. "They can do their profit some other way and the pleasure we already have it at McKale."

Council member Steve Kozachik did not vote because he works for the university. Council member Regina Romero cast the only "no" vote.

If all goes through with the Arizona State Liquor Board, Hauff says alcohol sales at basketball games could begin as early as next year.