Serving alcohol at city events has potential for success and disaster
Its been a long time coming, but a discussion and action that should have taken place a long time ago as it relates to both tourism and hosting various city venues.
Selling alcohol on municipal property during special events, such as those held at the city’s civic center and auditorium as well as outdoor entertainment events has been considered totally off limits until now and been the reason, in many instances over the years, why West Memphis has had a difficult time pulling off successful events such as outdoor barbecue contests, festivals, or annual celebrations.
The prohibition has been and continues to be antiquated and needs to be changed if visionaries hope to see their short and long term dreams of a citywide rebirth materializing.
And, from what we’re hearing from local politicians it now appears there is a consensus for a change of attitude and a tolerance for public events on city property to allow for alcohol consumption.
Now, we’re sure that with the unusually high number of churches within the city there are those religious citizens among us who certainly disapprove of allowing liquor and beer at public events and we’re also sure there will be many citizens foregoing any participation in such events. But, with that said, future events allowing alcohol has been proven in other cities to be highly successful in attracting both locals as well as outsiders.
Let’s face the fact that if West Memphis is to be competitive in attracting big name entertainers or organizers of special events then city leaders must be willing to offer amenities and services that other cities offer on public property.
From what we understand, alcohol would still be prohibited at city parks but as we are all aware liquor, wine and beer are consumed by park users as evident in the number of empty beer cans found particularly at the Tilden Rodgers Sports Complex.
Nevertheless, there should be certain restrictions in place within this pending ordinance that should exclude the Tilden Rodgers Sports Complex as well as any of the other city parks and playgrounds.
And, it now appears there is a willingness on the part of Mayor Marco McClendon and city council members to seriously consider passing an ordinance that will allow alcohol during certain events.
We fully expect considerable citizen input on this touchy issue and hopefully there will be enough citizens who recognize the value of passing this alcohol ordinance and the benefits it will have in promoting the city to outsiders who may be interested in similar events in the future.
Mayor Marco McClendon, who is leading the effort to allow alcohol on city property, has said it is difficult to bring certain entertainers into the city due to the current alcohol restriction and Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jim Jackson also said there have been numerous missed opportunities to host such events as weddings, receptions and private parties.
Let’s make this perfectly clear that with alcohol comes potential problems that must be taken into consideration when granting venue permits. We all know there are individuals who may have an issue with consumption control that leads to unwanted disorderly conduct and even worse.
With that in mind let’s make sure this ordinances stipulates strict oversight and, at times, special security measures.