Beer sales at ball park criticized

-A A +A

Award of RFP delayed

By Martin Salazar

The city’s plans to begin selling beer at the Henry Martinez Field during professional baseball games ran into opposition last week, prompting the City Council to postpone action on awarding a request for proposal to a local company that wants to sell beer at the ball games.

The opposition came from Ray Collins, who lost five members of his family in a drunk driving crash in November 2006, and from several other community members who attended last week’s Council meeting.

Collins told the Council that selling beer at baseball games is a bad idea for a number of reasons and that the city shouldn’t be getting into the liquor business. Regardless of how well-supervised the beer sales are, he said, the city would be taking on too much liability.

If someone crashes after drinking at the ball field, the city will be sued, he warned.

“It’s no good,” Collins added.

Awarding the RFP is one of the final steps to starting beer sales at the Rodriguez Park Complex. The City Council last month approved changes to the city’s drinking in public ordinance that would allow it.

The ordinance allows the sale and consumption of beer at Henry Martinez Field during Pecos League of Professional Baseball games, but only in a designated beer garden area, and the ordinance states that servers will try to limit patrons to no more than three beers. City Councilors Tonita Gurule-Giron and David Romero voted against the changes to the ordinance, while Mayor Alfonso Ortiz joined with Councilors Vince Howell and Joey Herrera to approve it.

At last Monday’s Council meeting, the Council planned to vote on awarding requests for proposals to JC’s New York Pizza Department for concession services and to New Mexico Craft Brewing Company for the beer sales. Because both items were tied together on the agenda, the Council voted to postpone action on them until the next meeting.

Also speaking against the beer sales were Alex Aragon, Lee Einer and Cordia Sammeth.

Aragon said selling beer at professional baseball games sends the wrong message to kids. He said the city may limit patrons to three beers at games, but said there’s noting to stop them from consuming liquor before they get to the game and then having more alcohol at the baseball game.

Aragon also questioned where the city is getting the money to fix up the ball park for the professional baseball team. He called it an experiment and said it’s costing the city too much money.

Einer told the Council the city already has problems with people drinking too much, and city government shouldn’t be promoting more drinking.

“We don’t need that,” he said.

Sammeth said beer isn’t needed to enjoy sporting events.

City officials have said that beer sales are an integral part of the Pecos League’s business plan. The league has chosen Las Vegas as a site for one of three expansion teams in the 2013 season. The local team will be named the Las Vegas Train Robbers.

Ortiz defended the amount the city has spent on the Rodriguez Park Complex, saying that those expenditures benefit Little League as well.