Real Monarchs spend an extra $250,000 to comply with Utah liquor law, but DABC still holds off on beer license for new Herriman soccer stadium

(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) RSL Academy charter school at right is next to the Zions Bank Stadium, home of the Real Monarchs. The charter school is up and running as the stadium is being finished. There are also five side-by-side outdoor soccer practice fields and an indoor arena housing two more fields.

The Real Monarchs have spent nearly $250,000 to move the entrance of their new Herriman soccer stadium as far from their on-site charter school as possible — just to get a state liquor license.

The effort and expense, however, were not enough to convince members of Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control commission that Real Salt Lake’s minor-league affiliate was prepared to sell beer to fans.

On Tuesday, the board postponed a decision on the Monarchs’ liquor license for a month, saying it needed more information about the project. Namely, the board wondered, are the emergency exits near the school secure enough to keep minors from gaining access?

”What would prevent someone from opening the doors and bringing something in?” asked board member Thomas Jacobson, a Park City attorney.

The DABC board also wants to review state code, to ensure that the agency’s rules are being applied consistently.

Waiting until March 27 — the board’s next scheduled meeting — is problematic, because the Monarchs’ home opener is March 31.

That doesn’t give the team much time to buy beer and set up dispensing equipment, explained Daniel K. Boyd, owner of Wasatch Restaurant Group, the consulting firm that oversees all the food service operations for RSL and its owner, Dell Loy Hansen.

“That’s really pushing it,” he told the commission. “It’s just hard for us to prepare for a professional season without the ability to sell alcohol.”

If the concerns can be answered quickly, Chairman John T. Nielsen said, he would consider calling a midmonth emergency meeting to issue the license.

The new stadium is part of a larger 42-acre complex under construction off the Mountain View Corridor, near 14700 S. 3700 West. It includes eight soccer fields and training facilities to be used by RSL, the Monarchs, the Utah Royals — RSL’s new professional women’s team — and the club’s under-16 and under-18 teams.

It also is home to the Real Salt Lake Academy High School, a charter school that specializes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The school includes a boarding facility and caters to up-and-coming soccer players who come from around the country to train.

The project is estimated to cost $73 million.

The Monarchs could have avoided this liquor license debacle if the stadium’s planners and architects had not placed the original entrance of the 5,500-seat venue just 100 feet from RSL’s new charter school. That’s too close, according to state law, to get a liquor license.

Alcohol licenses cannot be granted to businesses if they are within 200 feet (as the crow flies) or 600 feet (by pedestrian travel) of a church, school, park, public playground or library. The distance requirement differs for restaurants, which must be at least 300 feet from community locations.

Boyd said the Monarchs have been working with the DABC to find a solution. By moving the entrance to the northwest corner of the stadium, it pushed proximity to the school over the 600-foot requirement.

“We took what [the DABC] said to heart and have spent $250,000 to move the gates and to be in compliance,” Boyd said, noting that school will rarely be in session when games are played. “Most of our events will happen on nights and weekends and summer, when school is not in session.”

The Monarchs’ season runs through August.

Boyd said the Monarchs will follow the same security protocol as at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy. Before each game, the emergency doors will be locked and security guards will be posted in front.

These extra doors are opened only near the end of each game, he said, or in an emergency.