APGFCU Arena to allow alcoholic beverages at two spring concerts

Alcoholic beverages will be allowed at two upcoming concerts at the new APGFCU Arena, the board of trustees voted Tuesday.

The program would require everyone attending either the Kool and the Gang concert on May 10 or the KC and the Sunshine Band concert May 15 to bring valid picture identification to be verified at a check-in station, Greg Pizzuto, general manager for the arena told the trustees at Tuesday's meeting.

Those wishing to purchase alcohol would have to have their IDs checked at a separate table, where they would receive a wristband put on them by arena staff to prevent the wristband from being given to other people.

"Anybody then that wants to be served alcohol has to have a wristband on," Pizzuto said. "That's the first thing we will check. We will keep an eye out for people who may be becoming a situation we don't want to serve."

Pizzuto also said that signs would be posted saying that the college reserves the right to serve alcohol, and that only two alcoholic drinks would be allowed to be purchased at a time. There will also be extra security staff on-site, and the arena's no re-entry policy would be strictly enforced.

"We have done a great deal of homework and research about what other institutions have done," Brenda Morrison, vice president for marketing, development and community relations, said. "We're very familiar with the rules and regulations that the [Harford County] Liquor Control Board has in place, and we have also investigated the liability issues for the college."

Pizzuto said that college officials met with the liquor control board last week, and they discussed ideas and suggestions for the college. Pizzuto said he and other staff members would be attending a "safe alcohol management program" held by the liquor board next week.

"It helps identify people who may have a problem, it discusses proper pour techniques as far as what you can pour and how you pour and those types of things," Pizzuto said.

Pizzuto also said that in April, a program would be brought on site to make officials certified in alcohol awareness.

"That helps line up with our liability insurance coverage," Pizzuto said.

Board member John Haggerty, the lone dissenting vote on the program, said that it was "very early in the history of what we're trying to do in that arena to be all of a sudden talking about serving alcohol."

"I would like to see us table this, maybe get a year under our belt, and then talk about it again," Haggerty said. "All the additional efforts you're talking about putting into it really seem to be extraordinary."

"We don't know how those concerts are going to go, let alone adding the dimension of alcohol to it," Haggerty added.

HCC President Dennis Golladay stressed that the policy would only apply to these specific events in a pilot program, and that the concerts are geared toward an older demographic. Morrison added that alcoholic beverages would not be allowed at events directed specifically at the student population, such as the Andy Grammer concert at the arena on April 4.

The licenses for the two May concerts would be issued as one-day, beer and wine licenses that are typically open to bona fide non-profit organizations, subject to liquor board approval, Katherine Thess, the liquor board's administrator, said Wednesday.

Thess said the two concerts are being held to benefit non-profits – the college's foundation and the Harford County Chamber of Commerce. She said her office and the arena management discussed the licenses, but she has not received any applications yet.

From a long-range perspective, Thess said there have been discussions with the arena management about creating a permanent class of license for the arena, not unlike what was done for Ripken Stadium when it opened. Such a license requires state legislation passed by the Maryland General Assembly, which Thess said is "not impossible."

The arena has already hosted one event where alcohol was available, a wine festival in February that was a fundraiser for the HCC Foundation. The foundation received a one-day license for the event, and Thess said the liquor board's chief inspector found nothing amiss when he stopped by the festival.

New building names

The board also voted unanimously to change the names of two new buildings and three existing buildings. The new Nursing and Allied Health Building will be known as Darlington Hall, while the new Plant Services Annex will be named Hickory Center.

The existing buildings getting new names are the Child Care Center, the Service Annex and Plant Services. They will be known as Forest Hill Center, Belcamp Center and Conowingo Center, respectively.

The new names would go along with the college's naming convention of choosing names for buildings from Harford County towns, villages, geographic features or rivers, Fredrick Johnson, vice president for finance and operations, said, adding that a donor could also have an effect on building names.

The bid opening for the college's new Nursing and Allied Health building will be on March 27 in the campus dining room on 3 p.m., Johnson said in giving an update on capital projects to the board.

Johnson added that the bid opening for contractors had been delayed for weeks because the eight finalists had more than 190 questions for the college.

"We felt like it was just appropriate to give everybody a fair shot at it, to delay it," Johnson said to the board. "On the 27th of March we should have a contractor selected waiting for your approval."

Groundbreaking on the Towson Building will take place on Tuesday, April 30 from noon to 2 p.m., Morrison said. The Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, William "Brit" Kirwan, is scheduled to speak along with Golladay and Towson University President Maravene Loeschke. Harford County Executive David Craig will also be attending.

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