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Welsh-Ryan Arena Alcohol Sales Earn Approval

A plan to expand alcohol sales at Northwestern University’s Welsh-Ryan Arena has moved forward, earning Evanston City Council approval Monday.

Alcohol sales at Welsh-Ryan Arena have been limited to the Wilson Club, a premium area, but a plan has been in the works to obtain necessary approvals for drinks to be sold at all concession stands around the venue. That process took a step forward Monday, when the Evanston City Council voted by a 5-3 margin to approve an ordinance that allows for a new license.

The approval allows Northwestern and Levy, the concessionaire for Welsh-Ryan Arena, to move forward with expanding Welsh-Ryan Arena alcohol sales. More from The Daily Northwestern:

With the new license, the arena’s current food vendor, Levy, will be able to sell alcohol throughout the stadium at all concession stands. Previously, alcohol sales were only permitted in the stadium’s Wilson Club, which requires a donation of $6,000 or more to enter.

No Evanston residents voiced their concern during Monday’s meeting, a stark contrast to when the license had previously been discussed. At multiple other council meetings, various community members spoke out against the ordinance, citing complaints about the danger it would cause to the community.

“They are concerned that people will overindulge a get in their cars and have accidents,” said Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th), whose ward houses the arena. “Some are concerned that students, even if they are over 21, might overindulge.”

The process for Welsh-Ryan to obtain a liquor license was two-step. The city first had to create a new class of liquor licenses to allow for the sale of alcohol at stadiums. Then, the city had to approve a license for Welsh-Ryan.

Welsh-Ryan Arena is home to multiple athletic programs, including men’s and women’s basketball, wrestling, and volleyball. It underwent a major renovation prior to the 2018-19 college basketball season, with the upgrades including new premium areas, along with widened concourses, an expanded lobby, upgraded concession and restroom facilities, new locker rooms, and more

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