Limiting Alcohol At College World Series

Tuesday, February 27th 2007, 11:02 am

By: News On 6

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) _ Omaha can't afford to lose the College World Series, so the city would be wise to comply with the NCAA's request to limit the amount of alcohol served around Rosenblatt Stadium during the event, a city councilman says.

``I'll jump through hoops of fire to keep the College World Series in Omaha,'' Jim Vokal said Monday. ``That would be a colossal loss for our city.''

Vokal said he'll propose an ordinance at Tuesday's City Council meeting that would limit to seven the number of temporary liquor licenses allowed within a half-mile of Rosenblatt Stadium during the CWS. This year's NCAA Division I baseball championship tournament runs June 15 to 24 or 25.

The CWS has been played in Omaha since 1950. The city and the NCAA have a contract to keep the CWS here through 2010.

The alcohol issue was broached in a recent letter from the NCAA to Mayor Mike Fahey.

Seven temporary licenses for beer gardens and beer tents were issued for last year's CWS. Dennis Poppe, NCAA managing director of baseball and football, said he knows of no major problems associated with alcohol.

But if a cap isn't placed on alcohol, Poppe said, there are bound to be problems eventually.

``We're trying to cut it off at the pass before it gets to be a major issue,'' Poppe said.

While there have been few, if any, alcohol-related incidents reported in the stadium, residents who live nearby have complained about drunken fans and loutish behavior, Poppe said.

Poppe said it's the NCAA's hope that a family friendly atmosphere can be preserved. Ideally, he said, the CWS environment would be alcohol-free.

Vokal said he and three other members of the seven-person council support the license limit.

The CWS has a $40 million to $50 million economic impact on Omaha, Vokal said, in addition to invaluable national exposure.

He said it's likely the alcohol issue will be part of the next round of negotiations with the NCAA.

``I don't want to take the chance of it being a deal-breaker,'' Vokal said.

Poppe said he's confident the city will act in the best interest of the CWS.

``We've had such a great partnership with the city,'' he said. ``We've always been able to reach a mutual agreement.''

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