Clubs denied Sunday datesThey went to bat and struck out in a bid to be open for more Sunday football. Club managers Gary Ganser of the American Legion and Dave Johnson of the Moose Lodge were denied a request for 13 more temporary permits to keep their bars open Sundays for the coming NFL season.
They went to bat and struck out in a bid to be open for more Sunday football. Club managers Gary Ganser of the American Legion and Dave Johnson of the Moose Lodge were denied a request for 13 more temporary permits to keep their bars open Sundays for the coming NFL season.
City ordinance only allows 12 Sunday permits for each club, up from eight a few years ago before the city council bumped it up. State law allows for the clubs’ request.
At issue, city council members told the pair at the Aug. 9 council meeting, is a matter of fairness for regular bars that have to pay much more for liquor licenses, up to 10 times that of “clubs” as defined by the state. The council voted “no” unanimously on the request.
“A few bars pay less than the other ones,” Mayor Randy Bolen said. “We try to keep a balance.”
Johnson, who volunteered to pay the regular $200 license fee for Sunday liquor, said if the city is trying to keep a level playing field, it shouldn’t allow clubs to operate at all. “We compete every other day of the week,” he said.
Johnson said there is no recourse, as the state gives liquor control to local government units. “They make the final decision,” he said.
Bolen said there has been “resistance” in the past to open up competition on Sundays.
Depending on a club’s membership, a liquor license generally runs a few hundred dollars but is for Monday through Saturday only. It also reminds clubs that they must have specific rules for membership, such as drinking for members only and their guests, though the stipulation is rarely enforced across the state.
Commercial bars pay close to $3,000 for a liquor license.
The state allows for Sunday liquor to all establishments with a guideline that it not cost more than $200.
But city ordinance won’t allow a change for the clubs.
“We can’t justify it,” council president Mary Rosati said. “Even if they wanted to pay the full (license) fee, they’d have to open up to the general public.”
Council members were told that club bylaws won’t allow an official “public” status.
“It’s up to them,” Bolen said of the clubs paying for a full regular license.
There are cities in the state that allow clubs to compete on Sundays. State license records show that some of those clubs gave up their “club” status, paid a full license, and were granted Sunday on-sale.
Moose and Legion members would have to agree to a change and then try to change bylaws, which is unlikely for the Moose, Johnson said.