TAMPA — A proposal to expand liquor sales to all of Raymond James Stadium won initial approval from the Tampa City Council Thursday night.
The Tampa Sports Authority currently has a city permit to sell beer and wine throughout the stadium, but can only serve distilled spirits to the 15,000 or so fans in the club level and luxury suites.
Sports authority officials say expanding liquor sales to the entire 65,890-seat facility would put the stadium on an equal footing with Amalie Arena and Tropicana Field.
Council members supported the request 6-0, with Lisa Montelione not present for the vote, after hearing about steps taken by the stadium concessionaire, Aramark Sports and Entertainment Services, to prevent alcohol sales to the inebriated and under-aged at RayJay.
"There will be no service to anyone who's visibly intoxicated," sports authority attorney Grace Yang told the council.
Aramark has trained about 8,500 stadium employees on responsible alcohol service, Yang said. That includes not selling more than two drinks at a time to any customer, carding anyone who appears to be younger than 40 and cutting off sales before the start of the fourth quarter of a football game or at least 30 minutes before the end of other events.
Aramark has six alcohol consumer compliance supervisors who work at the stadium and nine alcohol sales trainers. The stadium also has two undercover police officers working games to help monitor alcohol sales and offers programs to encourage fans to be designated drivers and to offer free cab rides to intoxicated fans.
Tampa Alcohol Coalition chairwoman Ellen Snelling told the council that her organization had concerns when a similar proposal came up (and was denied) in 2007.
Since then, however, the stadium has changed concessionaires and appears to have taken steps to keep the community safe, she said.
While she still has concerns about tailgating, Snelling said she supported the sports authority's request.
"It seems like everything's in place now to really be a responsible vendor and to have responsible policies," she said.
A second and final public vote on the petition is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Oct. 15.
Contact Richard Danielson at rdanielson@tampabay or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times