A recent order from the state's liquor authority has left city of Watertown leaders a bit baffled. Either the city must stop selling food at Thousand Islands Privateer hockey games or the private company that sells beer and wine at the games will lose its license. As our Brian Dwyer reports, the city is working every angle to figure it all out.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- For 35 games, it seemed like the hockey gods were smiling down on Watertown. The 1000 Islands Privateers have been a hit on the ice and on the bottom line. The city making enough money with its food stand to offset costs and even make a profit and a private company, Savory Downtown, doing well selling beer and wine.
"The hockey games are immensely successful," Watertown Mayor Jeff Graham said. "People are enjoying not only the beverages, but a variety of food sold at the city concession stand."
But last week, Savory got a call from the state. As the liquor license owner, it was required by law to sell the food as well. Either the city stops selling food or Savory can't sell the alcohol. Graham hopes there's a middle ground somewhere.
"It's a tough one to understand because it's a good environment down there and people are enjoying it," Graham said.
Graham says if the city were forced to give up that stand, it would be out about $520 of profit per game. But maybe more importantly, those folks who work the concession stand would no longer have those hours.
"Hopefully the lawyers can get together on this and have a meeting of the minds and say closing down the city concession stand for food and putting some people out of work really isn't in anybody's interest," he added.
So as the city continues to talk with the state about some sort of possible compromise, the dilemma has also held up a contract agreement it had with the Privateers to keep the team in Watertown past this season. The team wants to stay, but also wants to provide fans with as much as possible as well.
"We feel as part of the fan experience, it’s very important to us to be able to offer beer and alcohol within the facility," Privateers owner Nicole Kirnan said.
Contract talks will pick back up Monday night. The city hoping it has a compromise with the state in place then as well.
Mayor Graham says a deal along the lines of both Savory and the city offering food could be a good compromise.