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Panel recommends selling beer in stands at ballgames

SANTA FE, N.M. — A city advisory committee has unanimously endorsed a proposal to expand the area where people can drink beer at Fort Marcy Park during Santa Fe Fuego baseball games.

“In the past two years the Pecos League has been there, there has not been one incident dealing with alcohol,” Councilor Ron Trujillo declared to the Public Safety Committee on Tuesday afternoon.

“What was presumed was that we would have this rowdy crowd coming to games, getting drunk. That has never occurred,” he said.

When the Pecos League’s Fuego sought to play at Fort Marcy two years ago, the City Council approved a plan to allow people to drink beer in a special beer garden – an area of the ballpark above the third-base line and near left field surrounded by a 6-foot fence. It’s accessible only to adults ages 21 and older who have valid identification.

Trujillo, chair of the Public Safety Committee, is sponsoring an ordinance amendment that would allow beer consumption in the entire seating and concession area of the ballpark.

Trujillo said fans have approached him about changing the beer garden rule. They say they’re adults who’d like to enjoy a beer like they can at, say, an Albuquerque Isotopes baseball game, Trujillo said. Many people forgo having a beer at the Fuego game because it would mean being separated from their children, he said.

Councilor Chris Rivera said, at the few Fuego games he’s attended, “it’s difficult to see parents sitting behind the fenced area while their kids are on the other side.”

A selling point for bringing the team to Santa Fe was that the entire family could attend games together, he said.

For legal reasons, fencing would enclose the entire grandstand area if the amended ordinance is approved by the City Council.

The Public Safety Committee voted to add stipulations to the ordinance that people can purchase no more than three drinks – monitored with wristbands – and that alcohol sales must cease at the end of the sixth inning.

The rules are already in place but are part of the resolution that created the beer garden – a measure that would essentially be rendered null with the new ordinance. The committee also voted to require that a review of the expansion be conducted at the end of the season.

Committee members also said they want city legal staff to review state regulations on whether security is required at the baseball games. Trujillo said there were security guards present during the Fuego’s first season, but not this year.

Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn has said that Santa Fe is the only city the league plays in that requires that beer drinking be restricted to a separate area during games. Trujillo noted that Pecos League officials did not request the beer expansion.

The Fuego could wrap up their season as soon as next week, so it’s unlikely the change, if approved by the entire City Council, will take place before next season.

The proposal next goes before the Public Works Committee on July 29.