The Utah state liquor commission has decided to keep wine and spirits in the penalty box during Utah Grizzlies hockey games, although beer is still in play.
On Tuesday, the concessionaire for the Maverik Center attempted to score three single-event liquor permits that would have allowed wine and cocktails to be served at six games in February, March and April.
But the liquor board voted 5-0 to deny the request, saying that single-event permits are designed for civic or community groups promoting a common good — not businesses who want to supplement their income.
"I think we open Pandora’s Box if we allow this," said commissioner John Nielsen. Single-event permits are for one-time "unique events, not ongoing athletic contests."
The losers in this liquor battle are fans, said Agostino DiGiacomo, the food and beverage director with Diamond Creations, the concessionaire at the center.
"Our customers have repeatedly told us they would like wine and spirits at games," DiGiacomo told the commission.
The single-event permits were requested for the Friday and Saturday games on Feb. 28 and March 1; March 21 and 22; and April 11 and 12.
DiGiacomo said the liquor board has approved similar single-event permits "six or seven time in the past with no liquor violations."
But in recent months, the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (UDABC) has been getting tough on awarding single-event permits.
"The big question, is whether or not a business that already has a liquor license can also qualify for a single-event permit," said UDABC Executive Director Sal Petilos.
It’s an example of just how complicated Utah’s liquor laws can be as the Maverik Center already holds three state liquor licenses: one to sell beer in the main concourse, another that allows wine and spirits in private suites and a third that allows all types of liquor during banquets and catered parties.
None of those licenses allow for wine or spirts in the main concourse.
The West Valley City center could turn the upstairs restaurant space, which is now vacant, into a club. But the wait for club licenses is more than a year and would require the center to remodel the space.
Board member Constance White expressed concern that Utah doesn’t offer a license to fit the Maverik Center’s needs.
"I do have sympathy for what you are trying to do," she said. "But you’re cobbling together something that hasn’t been approved."
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