TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A protest against the sale of alcohol at the University of Arizona's McKale Center has likely delayed any beer from flowing until after the current men's basketball season.
The formal protest filed by someone living within a one-mile radius of the arena means the issue will be discussed at the Liquor Licenses and Control Board's meeting in March.
Jeffrey Trillo, Assistant Director of Licensing and Administration, described it as a "fork in the road" for the liquor license. Without the protest, the issue would have been resolved by the director of the department and likely sooner, according to Trillo.
He said any protest requires board action. There are three groups that can protest a license:
- The Department of Liquor Licenses and Control
- The local municipality where the license is located
- A resident or property-owner within a one-mile radius of the proposed license
Elected leaders in Tucson passed a resolution in favor of the alcohol sale at McKale Center.
This protest came from the third category. A former administrative law judge outlined his concerns, which included "more crowd violence, the sale of liquor to minors, and the possibility of lawsuits against the University if a fan at a game is impaired and is in an automobile accident after the game injures someone."
Some of his worries were echoed by fans arriving at McKale for Thursday night's home game against Oregon State.
Monica Mason said she loves to support the Wildcats but could not see a benefit to alcohol at basketball games.
"Some people get really out of hand and you're in close quarters inside the McKale Center," she said. "It can be dangerous."
Despite her concerns, Mason said alcohol sales next season wouldn't keep her away from the games.
The same goes for James Kemp, who said he's not against alcohol in general, but he doesn't see the need for it at a college basketball game.
Chris Erickson, a junior at the university, said he won't miss the sales this season because he'll be back for his senior year.
He said alcohol sales seems to make sense as long as the "experience" doesn't take away from the game and the atmosphere at McKale Center.
"If there's not enough availability of certain types of beverages for me and my friends, yeah I might want to deter from that," he said.
Bob Blaser, walking on University Boulevard with his wife, also wondered what the arena might lose by introducing alcohol. He said there's already a solid tradition at McKale that existed fine without booze.
"There's an ambiance that's famous, just listen to any of the TV broadcasts," said Blaser.
Tom McAndrews, who graduated from the doctoral program on campus in 1975, didn't agree with a single protest being enough to delay the issue by requiring a board vote.
"That's very undemocratic," he said. "It's kind of stupid."
Fans looking forward to the alcohol sales said they don't worry about anyone consuming too much because they expect the university to have limits in place like at other sporting events.