Baseball fans may enjoy an All-Star closing time when the midsummer classic comes to Target Field. The Minnesota Twins are hosting the 2014 All-Star Game on July 15. The event is expected to bring in 160,000 fans and even more money to the city.
Using estimates from past games, the city of Minneapolis anticipates a $75 million boost in the local economy. Incidentally, baseball games are among the only major events that have brought a comparable impact to the city. Minneapolis says the 1987 and 1991 World Series brought in $71 million and $76 million, respectively. The 1992 NFL Super Bowl trumped them with a $79 million dollar boost to local businesses. The city of Minneapolis started collecting data in 1987, so the economic impact for the Twins most recent All-Star Game in 1985 isn’t available.
Since Target Field opened, the Twins have celebrated the experience of outdoor baseball. That includes fresh green grass, a beautiful downtown skyline backdrop and drinking an ice cold beer under the warm summer sun. A new bill moving through the State Capital would allow baseball fans to keep drinking long after the sun goes down.
On Thursday, twin bills (no pun intended) were introduced in the House and Senate allowing a special “one night only” closing time specific to the All-Star Game. They extend the current 2 a.m. closing time to 4 a.m. on July 16 in Hennepin County. The bills were authored by Sen. James Metzen (DFL) and Rep. Joe Atkins (DFL).
“The last time we did this — in 2008 for the Republic National Convention — it came up late, at the very tail end of the legislative session. We didn’t get a great chance to hear from everybody involved about what their perceptions were,” Adkins explained. “I anticipated this would be proposed by someone this session, but I put it in myself to ensure we’d hear the proponents and just as importantly the opponents early and wouldn’t have to rush through it.”
The chief reason Atkins presented the bill, he said, was it helped ease public safety concerns in 2008. It seems counterintuitive, but according to police and city officials, by spreading out the time in which people head home, it made their job easier.
Not all bars may be on board. Under the current proposal, each bar that has a liquor license can apply for a special permit. That could cost as much a $2,500 — which comes to $1,250 dollars per extra hour open. Bar owners would need to figure out if baseball revelers will bring in that much money to make the extended hours a good financial decision.
In 2008, Gov. Tim Pawlenty approved a similar ordinance for the RNC. It allowed metro area bars to keep serving until the wee hours of the morning during the convention, which was held at Xcel Energy Center. St. Paul’s City Council narrowed the scope to specific bars allowed to apply for the extension to the downtown area. Bars who wanted to participate had to pay $2,500 for a permit to do so. The RNC drew 45,000 visitors to St. Paul, the biggest single-event the city had hosted at that time.
However, the Pioneer Press reported a month before the RNC that no St. Paul establishments had applied for the late-night liquor license. By comparison, Minneapolis had nine applicants (three of which were gentlemen’s clubs) who paid the fee to stay open two extra hours. There were also a handful of private parties that paid an extra fee to keep the bar open until 4 a.m. Bloomington granted 12 extended bar licenses. A somewhat expected move, since many hotels are located near the airport and the RNC draws visitors from around the country and world.
The current extended bar hours bills are limited to Hennepin County. Adkins said if Ramsey County were to ask for similar consideration, particularly from the public safety community, he’d be open to expanding those rights.
It could be a month before we know if the 4 a.m. bar close will happen in mid-July. The liquor bill process has a different approval process than most. The bills are individually considered then placed into a larger omnibus liquor bill. Atkins has carried that legislation for the last several years.
Next week, the House Commerce Committee will debate the extended bar hours. If the committee passes it, the bill would be likely taken up on the House floor a week or two later as one large package of liquor-related legislation.
The late-night last call movement isn’t special to Minnesota. Across the country, lawmakers extend bar close to ease public safety concerns and bring in additional revenue for major events like the Super Bowl, World Series and the NCAA Tournament. This is an issue that would almost certainly come up again should Minnesota be granted another major sporting or political event.
By the way, non-Twins Season Ticket Holders can register for the chance to purchase All-Star Game tickets. FanFest and All-Star Sunday Tickets (legends & celebrity softball game double header) will go on sale March 10th. You can get more information about those events by visiting the Twins’ website.