UNM is inching closer to receiving an exempt waiver that would allow it to sell alcohol at The Pit, University Stadium and the SUB.
The New Mexico Alcohol and Gaming Division recently denied UNM’s request for a liquor license because UNM representatives failed to produce the proper identification waiver. The waiver allows the University to circumvent a state law that limits alcohol sales within 300 feet of a school or church.
Albuquerque City Council President Ken Sanchez said UNM’s liquor license applications raise questions regarding discrimination and public safety because alcohol would only be sold in restricted areas.
“Why should other people be discriminated against because they can’t afford to purchase a suite or sports boxes?” he said.
The University will introduce its application to receive an identification waiver to the Albuquerque City Council on Nov. 1, The City Council will vote on the measure Nov. 15.
If approved, guests sitting in the luxury suites and club area at The Pit and University Stadium could buy beer and wine.
Sodexo, a food service company contracted to handle stadium concessions, not UNM vendors, would manage all alcohol sales and service.
Laura Mason, director of the Council Services Department, said the upcoming meeting would decide the applications’ fates. She said if the city refuses to grant the waivers, UNM could take the matter to district court.
“When we hear the case, we are going to hear the initial application,” Sanchez said. “I think the University will have to apply for another license to allow for sales to all the patrons at the ball games.”
In an Albuquerque Journal interview, Kurt Esser, associate athletic director for external affairs, said that adding alcohol sales in suites and club-level sections rewards fans who may have contributed to Pit renovations.
“The goal is if somebody wants to come in and enjoy a beer while watching the game, that’s what they’re going to be able to do. If it gets out of hand, then they’re going to be cut off,” he told the Journal.
If the City Council approves the measures, UNM would not have to resubmit its liquor license applications with the state.
“If we do support that it (the waiver) passes, I would like safety components in place to ensure that when people leave, they aren’t drinking and driving,” Sanchez said.
According to the state’s Alcohol and Gaming website, UNM withdrew applications for a liquor license at the Maxwell Museum and Popejoy Hall.
UNM withdrew the applications because representatives thought Maxwell Museum and Popejoy would present difficulties for controlling illegal drinking, said Walt Miller, associate vice-president of Student Affairs.
UNM sometimes allows alcohol service on campus at special events with restrictions. The restrictions include not serving alcohol before 4:30 p.m. and a requirement to serve food with alcohol.
A liquor license for the SUB would give UNM event planners control when serving alcohol, Miller said. He said that right now, an event’s sponsor controls alcohol. The new license would allow the University’s food service provider to provide, distribute, serve and monitor alcohol sales for closed events, Miller said.
“It’s just for certain rooms. It is not for the whole building,” he said. “This will restrict how the alcohol will be purchased.”