Under the Dome

Dome: New rules allow in-stand beer sales

jfrank@newsobserver.com rchristensen@newsobserver.com jmorrill@charlotteobserver.comOctober 17, 2013 

Look for a beer man in the aisles at some professional sporting events soon. And expect to find retailers offering growler fills.

The N.C. Rules Review Commission approved temporary rules Thursday to allow in-stand beer sales starting Oct. 25. The move is possible after state lawmakers loosened the rules to allow beer vendors in the stands at professional sporting events with a seating capacity of 3,000 or more. Under previous law, only stadiums with a capacity of 60,000 could have roaming beer sellers, meaning it only applied to Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium, where the Panthers play.

Tim Kent, the executive director of the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers, expects the Charlotte Bobcats basketball team and Charlotte Checkers minor league hockey team to possibly add in-stand beer sales. The Carolina Hurricanes likely won’t because it’s more difficult to avoid a vendor blocking a view of the game. Minor league baseball teams also are likely to embrace the new rules when the 2015 season starts.

Under the rules from the N.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Commission, roaming beer vendors cannot carry logo-branded beer trays or signs, only ones with product names and prices in the same font size and type. It also puts into formal rule the time at which in-stand sales must cease:

• the beginning of the eighth inning of a baseball game

• the fourth quarter of a basketball or football game

• the 60th minute of a soccer game

• the third period of a hockey game

• the last quarter of an auto race or the final hour of any other professional sporting event

If concession stand beer sales end earlier than those times, in-stand sales will also conclude, the rules say.

And don’t expect to hear the familiar “beer here” call from the aisles. The new law prohibits the traditional bellow.

In the case of growlers, the ABC rules allow retailers to fill empty growlers no larger than 2 liters for off-premises consumption. Previously, only breweries could fill growlers on-site, but House bill 829 expanded the law to permit retailers such as Total Wine, Whole Foods, Harris Teeter and craft beer shops to do the same.

Protzman quits governor’s race

Former Chapel Hill City Councilman James Protzman has withdrawn from the 2016 governor’s race – not even making it until 2014.

“After almost seven months on the campaign trail, I’m sorry to report that it’s worse than I thought it would be,” Protzman wrote on his blog. “Seeing how candidates have to maneuver to curry favor is sickening. Witnessing the shallowness of the electorate is depressing. And there’s the always-present stench of corporate influence.”

Protzman, a Democrat, said he wanted to create a platform in running. But he realized he already had a platform in his BlueNC blog.

“But beyond that, it turns out that campaigns aren’t even about ideas,” he wrote. “They’re about money and connections. I knew that going in, but somehow I didn’t internalize it. Now that I have, it’s like drinking poison. I don’t have the stomach for it.”

Watt’s raised $10

At least four Democrats are already running hard for the congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Mel Watt of Charlotte, whose nomination to head the federal Housing Finance Agency still awaits Senate confirmation.

But there’s a growing sense that Watt, first elected in 1992, won’t run even if he doesn’t get the federal post.

Reports filed this week with the Federal Election Commission show Watt raised just $10 in the third quarter. That’s not even lunch money in Washington.

By contrast, four people who want his seat have been busy raising money. Leading the field: two-term state Rep. Marcus Brandon of High Point. He raised $90,500 during the quarter and more than $143,000 for the campaign.

Brandon, the legislature’s only openly gay member, appears to have a national fundraising base with contributions from New York to California.

Behind him was George Battle III, general counsel for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, who’s raised a total of $109,620.

State Rep. Alma Adams, an 11-term House member from Greensboro, has raised $89,493. And state Sen. Malcolm Graham of Charlotte has raised $57,150.

The 12th District stretches from Charlotte to Greensboro.

Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen, and Charlotte Observer staff writer Jim Morrill

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