Sports Complex Eyeing Alcohol Sales

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Lansing, Mich. (WILX) Management at the Hope Sports Complex in South Lansing say they need extra revenue and alcohol sales will be the kick their bottom line needs.

Lansing City Council would have to approve amending a current city ordinance to allow alcohol sales at the complex. But at least one council member is ready to throw a red card at the idea.

"The way this is marketed is primarily for young people," said council member Carol Wood, who has had her reservations with the proposal from the very beginning.

"If you want to have a drink, there's the opportunity to do that after the tournament."

Wood said she's worried allowing alcohol sales would send the wrong message at a complex which relies heavily on business from youth and adult soccer tournaments.

"When we look at some of the things that erupt around sports activities, I'm not sure there's the necessity to have alcohol combined with that."

Private management began leasing the complex on Aurelius Rd. from the city last summer and has been dumping significant money into it ever since, rehabbing the fields and bringing in new sports programs.

Julie Mullin, general manager of the complex, told WILX in April the expansion and upgrades have come at a price.

"We need the ability to create a path to finance the whole project," Mullin said. "It would mean almost a guaranteed success for us to continuing improving the fields and expand the complex."

Mullin did not return our calls for comment Monday.

Wood, however, isn't sold on the idea that alcohol sales would be the only option to help boost revenue for the facility.

"What I've heard from the management is that what they're talking about is only ten percent of their revenues--for alcohol sales--so then I'm not sure this is necessarily needed to fulfill their financial obligations." she said.

During a presentation to council in April, Mullin said the proposal ideally would include a full bar that would allow them to serve a mix of beers, wine and margaritas in a yet-to-built pavilion alongside the complex's existing one.

The mayor's office, along with the director of the city's parks and recreation department is eager to see the proposal succeed.

"We want to have a premier facility like other facilities around Michigan, and even in the country," said Brett Kaschinske, director of Lansing's Parks and Recreation Dept.

"There's a lot of changes you're seeing up here in terms of the construction that's going on and this is just another revenue stream for that."

Kaschinske said all possible revenue streams need to be explored, adding that bringing alcohol into the mix would double food and drink revenue for the complex, he estimates.

"If you're just putting it on the backs of the people paying for it or the tournaments coming in, we're seeing this as a part of the total package," he said.

"We have that opportunity I've been to plenty of tournaments, I've gone to hundreds of soccer games and I think the parents are very responsible."

Wood suggested there could be an opportunity to make exceptions to allow alcohol only for special occasions or events, and pointed to Spartan Stadium as an example of a successful venue that's remained dry.

"Do I have alcohol from time to time, absolutely, but I'm not sure when we're talking about something that is geared toward primarily for young people, that this is sending the right message," she said.

A vote on the issue isn't expected until June.

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