Council introduces proposed liquor license for Welsh-Ryan Arena, passes restaurant liquor licenses


Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs

Alderman Eleanor Revelle. Revelle said she’s receiving fewer emails than normal, which she attributed to residents’ preoccupation with the coronavirus.

Sam Heller, Development & Recruitment Editor

City Council voted Monday to introduce a proposed liquor license for the vendors at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.

The vote was one of many that were passed surrounding various liquor licenses, including granting the new owners of Tapas Barcelona a liquor license and changing the rules surrounding licenses for movie theaters. While most passed unanimously, the Welsh-Ryan proposed introduction passed in the council only 5-4.

“As the Alderman for the 7th Ward where the Welsh-Ryan Arena is located, I have heard loud and clear from my constituents that they are very concerned about alcohol consumption at the arena,” Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) told The Daily after the meeting.

When the proposed license was last brought up in council in July, residents living near the stadium voiced their concerns about the noise pollution and general disorder that could result. At that meeting, aldermen decided to delay the discussion.

Currently, alcohol sales are only permitted in the stadium’s Wilson Club, which requires a donation of $6,000 or more to enter. The proposal would allow the arena’s current food vendor, Levy, to sell alcohol throughout the stadium.

“If I had any other neighbor who had parties 50 times a year and serves beer to 8,000 to 40,000 people, I would call the cops every single time,” Evanston resident Lynn Trautmann said during July’s meeting.

Similar critiques also stopped Northwestern from serving alcohol in Ryan Field this past football season.

This vote on the Welsh-Ryan also comes after the heated debate at City Council last November about allowing the stadium to host professional sporting events and for-profit concerts. Revelle and other aldermen voiced their concerns about the negative effect on the surrounding businesses and homes, and residents came out in droves against the proposal.

Also during Monday’s meeting, the new owners of Spanish restaurant Tapas Barcelona received a new liquor license from the city.

“We know the great responsibility that comes with running a business that serves alcoholic beverages and we are attuned with the needs with the city and the responsibilities that come with it,” said Horatio Lopez who co-owns the restaurant with his wife Maria.

Council also decided to revise the law on serving alcohol in movie theaters. Now, alcohol can be served during any film regardless of its MPAA rating and each customer can now buy two drinks at a time. Previously, people could only drink during PG-13 and R rated movies.

Lastly, council introduced a new law that would reduce the fee of the early-hour public alcoholic events from $500 to $100.

Assistant City Attorney Hugh DuBose mentioned during the planning and development that these events are relatively rare, with it only being used by Northwestern for a tailgate last year.

The discussion of possible alcohol sales at Welsh-Ryan will continue at a later council meeting.

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