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2011 February 9 - 12:00 am

MONEY TREE: Alcohol Ban Proposed at ND College Sports Events

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A proposal in the North Dakota House would ban drinking and alcohol possession at college sporting events if someone younger than 18 is attending.

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Chuck Damschen, said he wants to combat underage drinking, but opponents say drinking inside and outside of arenas already is closely monitored.

The measure would apply to college facilities and adjacent college property, even if it’s across a street. It would outlaw drinking inside arenas and stadiums and ban alcohol at tailgate parties if minors are present.

Both private colleges and the public college system would be affected.

“I thought this is a chance for everybody who says that they care about this problem to get on board and support a step in at least getting the discussion going,” Damschen said.

Tailgate parties are popular at the state’s two Division I universities, the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks and North Dakota State University in Fargo.

Damschen said minors should not have to be exposed to alcohol at the events or the negative behavior that can come with it.

Alcohol is not served at any of the NDSU arenas, but it is allowed during tailgating for football games in the parking lot of the city-owned Fargodome. NDSU officials say the use of booze is supervised and minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

In Grand Forks, alcohol is sold at the Alerus Center, home to the UND football team, and Ralph Engelstad Arena, where the hockey teams play. Neither building is owned by UND.

Jody Hodgson, general manager of the Ralph Engelstad Arena, said his group is opposed to the Damschen bill.

“We seek to promote the responsible alcohol consumption initiatives utilized by members of our industry and don’t feel the changes proposed by the sponsors of the bill are necessary,” Hodgson said.

North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education has declined to take a position on the bill.

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