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Santa Fe busts open ‘beer prison’ at Fort Marcy Park games

SANTA FE — The Santa Fe City Council on Wednesday approved an ordinance that will allow fans to consume beer in the entire seating and concession area at Fort Marcy Park, rather than just a fenced-in beer garden, during Santa Fe Fuego baseball games.

But the Fuego will have to ensure there are paid, uniformed guards during the game and pay for the new fencing that will enclose the grandstand area.

The new ordinance requires that a manager be present in the concession area during games and that servers not drink beer during games. The Fuego’s beer vendor must also put up signs declaring that it’s illegal to sell alcohol to minors and intoxicated people.

The measure also incorporates into law requirements from the city resolution that initially created the beer garden: drinkers are limited to three 12 oz. beers a game and beer sales must cease at the end of the sixth inning. The beer garden resolution will be rendered obsolete by the new ordinance.

City staff will review the new ordinance after one year.

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 and accessible only to adults ages 21 and older who have valid identification.

But councilors have said having the fenced-in beer garden – sometimes called the “beer prison” – often meant families were separated during games, among other issues.

The new ordinance was approved unanimously by the council with little discussion.

“I look forward to a winning season next year for the Fuego … a championship season!” Santa Fe Mayor David Coss said.

• In other Fuego news, a staff memo prepared for the City Council says the economic impact of the Fuego on Santa Fe is “measurably small at this stage.”

“However, more significant are the impacts that are difficult to quantify, i.e. diversifying the Santa Fe brand and providing a force for community development and cohesion,” Kate Noble of the city’s Economic Development Division wrote.

Noble wrote that the team’s direct economic impact on Santa Fe in 2012 includes $29,200 in spending by out-of-town visitors, as well as $22,598 the Fuego has paid for services including security and cleanup and $5,173 the team has paid in gross receipts tax.

Total spending generated by the team in Santa Fe in 2012 is $94,1340.

That may be small but “it is worth considering the community impact of the Santa Fe Fuego,” Noble wrote.

“Essentially, the impact of the Santa Fe Fuego may be most powerful in how it brings the community together and provides a common ground and point of pride; thus strengthening the community fabric,” Noble wrote.