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Hockey association denied a second temporary beer license

The city's experiment with allowing beer sales at Hudson Crusaders hockey games has come to an end -- at least for now.

At its Nov. 24 meeting, the City Council voted 3-2 to deny the Hudson Hockey Association a temporary beer license for the Crusaders' Dec. 6 game.

The council had allowed beer sales at a Nov. 22 game.

Hudson Police Chief Marty Jensen reported to the council's Finance Committee in a meeting immediately before the council meeting that the sale of beer at the Nov. 22 game hadn't caused any problems.

Alderpersons Scot O'Malley, Randy Morrissette II and Pam Brokaw nevertheless were concerned about the precedent of allowing beer to be served at a youth sporting event and voted to deny a second temporary license.

The Crusaders are a USA Hockey-sanctioned team that competes in the nine-team Minnesota Junior Hockey League. It is a developmental team for players ages 16-20 who have aspirations of playing college hockey.

Alderpersons Lee Wyland and Lori Bernard, who are members of the Finance Committee, opposed O'Malley's motion denying the license.

Alderperson Alan Burchill, also a member of the Finance Committee, withdrew himself from discussion of the issue and the vote. He said later that his St. Croix Valley Insurance Service agency insures the hockey association.

The hockey association had been hoping for approval to sell beer at the remainder of the Crusaders' 2008-09 home games when it first approached the city. The team has 11 games at Gornick Arena (inside the Hudson Sports and Civic Center at 1820 Hanley Road) remaining in the season that runs through the end of February.

The beer sales are needed to help fund the Crusaders, according to hockey association officials.

O'Malley and Morrissette expressed reservations about ongoing beer sales inside Gornick Arena when the council approved the temporary license for the Nov. 22 game.

That license was approved on a unanimous voice vote (Burchill abstained) with the understanding that the issue would get further scrutiny.

During the Nov. 24 Finance Committee meeting, Wyland questioned whether the city would be, in effect, creating a new type of beer license by approving a series of temporary licenses for Crusaders games.

"Is that what we really want to be doing?" he asked.

City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick said the city doesn't have the power to create a new type of alcoholic beverage license.

The Wisconsin Legislature establishes the types of alcoholic beverage licenses, which are defined in state statutes.

The city's options, Munkittrick said, are to issue a regular beer license, a six-month license or a temporary license.

Greg Sarno of the hockey association reported that the southwest corner of Gornick Arena was roped off for beer consumption during the Nov. 22 Crusaders game. The association also had a uniformed security guard on duty to deal with any trouble that might arise.

According to Police Chief Jensen, it was a quiet evening. Around 35 or 40 spectators attended the game, he said, and beer sales were "minimal."

"As of right now, I have no concerns," Jensen said. "I think you should look at it on a case-by-case basis."

O'Malley quickly moved to deny a second temporary license when the issue came before the City Council.

He said he didn't feel strongly that beer sales at Crusaders games were "a terrible thing," but he didn't want to go down the road of voting on a long string of temporary licenses.

Bernard countered that it seemed unfair for the council to deny a temporary license because it expected an organization to ask for more of them.

Munkittrick said the council needed to articulate the reasons for denying a license.

O'Malley responded that Crusaders games are an activity involving minors under the legal drinking age.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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