Live Nation seeks OK to let drinkers roam at SPAC
SARATOGA SPRINGS State Liquor Authority officials met with Live Nation’s beverage vendor Thursday to discuss its application for an on-premise liquor license, but no action was expected immediately.
If approved, the pending application would allow patrons at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center to drink purchased beer and wine at their seats rather than in the much-maligned beer garden.
People who attend Live Nation rock concerts at SPAC frequently complain about the beer garden, where they are required to consume their beverages away from the concert area before returning to their seats in the amphitheater or on the lawn.
That’s required under the current one-day catering permits Aramark, the beverage vendor, gets from the state Liquor Authority for each show.
On May 18, the vendor applied for an on-premise liquor license, which would allow alcohol to be sold and consumed anywhere on the property, said Bill Crowley, spokesman for the state Liquor Authority.
“They’d be allowed to sell and people would be allowed to consume on those grounds,” he said.
The license issue wasn’t decided Thursday because the application is not yet complete, Crowley said, adding that that’s not unusual at this point in the process.
He said he did not know what parts of the application were incomplete. Officials will need to see a complete application before they can make a ruling.
Licensing officials generally want to see pictures of the premises and ask questions of the applicants either by phone or in an in-person meeting like the one Thursday.
“We do look at what kind of security plan they have in place. That’s one of our primary concerns,” Crowley said.
John Huff, Live Nation general manager for events at SPAC, said recently that patrons can expect to see changes this season in the alcohol policy.
Live Nation has 19 more concerts scheduled at SPAC this season, including Coldplay, Bruce Springsteen, Phish, Blink 182 and Def Leppard.
The state Park Police unions are against the idea of music fans being able to drink anywhere in the venue. They’d just as soon have no alcohol at SPAC at all.
“We’re vehemently against extending the sale and possession of alcohol at Saratoga Performing Arts Center,” said Sgt. Jack Sadousky, vice president for the state Park Police supervisors’ union Local 102.
Sadousky said fewer restrictions on drinking would only add to the assaults and other crimes that occur during large Live Nation concerts.
It’s also more likely that police officers and members of the public will be injured if people drink more, said Don Lavarge, vice president of the state Park Police officers’ union Local 2796.
“It’s the union’s opinion that there’s a disproportionate number of officers injured at Live Nation concert events versus our normal police patrol functions,” he said.
No officers have been injured so far this year.
Lavarge said it makes no sense to him that patrol officers crack down on people drinking before the concerts in the parking lots but then those same people go into SPAC and are allowed to drink.
State Park Police patrol the state park on concert nights and respond inside SPAC if events escalate beyond what Live Nation security is authorized to handle.
Last week, the union asked for stun guns to use at Live Nation concerts.
During a Dave Matthews Band concert earlier this month, police arrested two men for allegedly assaulting a third man, rupturing his ear drum. Another man was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman, and police filed dozens of charges for underage drinking, open containers and other violations.