The beer taps can flow at the Utah Valley Convention Center when it opens in May.
The Provo Municipal Council unanimously approved the creation of a new class of beer license Tuesday that would cover public events at the Center Street convention center.
The city previously had classes of licenses for stores, restaurants, bars and wholesalers. The convention center didn’t fit into any of those categories, explained Wayne Parker, the city’s chief administrator.
Parker said the city looked to Salt Lake City, Ogden, St. George and other Utah communities with convention centers to see how to handle it.
The ordinance would cover the convention center and public sports arenas, as well as private sports arenas that seat more than 5,000 people.
Under the new license, beer may be sold in unmarked containers and must be consumed on the premises.
But resident Glenn Thurston objected to what he saw as giving the convention center special privileges. He said the conference center at the Provo Marriott, next door to the convention center, would not be allowed to serve beer outside restaurants or private rooms.
"This ordinance favors a publicly owned facility over a private business," Thurston said.
He also objected to not serving beer in its original containers. That, he argued, would make it difficult to know if minors were drinking alcohol.
Danny Wheeler, the convention center’s general manager, said the practice at convention centers he’s worked at is to serve beer in clear or yellow containers, making it easy to spot someone who is drinking illegally.
The ordinance also makes full background checks optional for people selling beer at stores and restaurants. Parker said the names would still be checked against a state database of people who violated alcohol laws, but eliminating the mandatory criminal background check will save the Police Department $150,000 a year.
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