A CLOSER LOOK: NWA city leaders discuss allowing outdoor alcohol consumption

A Closer Look
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NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA) — City leaders across Northwest Arkansas see potential in establishing an entertainment district ordinance that allow patrons to drink alcohol outside within the district.

Mountain Home recently passed an entertainment district ordinance that allows community members to consume alcoholic drinks outdoors within the district.

Kyle Smith, a Fayetteville City Council member, said such an ordinance would be boon to popular business hubs like Dickson Street and the Fayetteville Square.

“I think it’s something that would absolutely be beneficial,” Smith said. “We have an entertainment district that’s ripe for it already. I think without a doubt we would see a positive impact.”

Smith said the culture is already in place.

“Patios are already popular. What we’re talking about here is taking the already popular patio atmosphere further,” Smith said.

An entertainment district that would allow drinking alcoholic drinks outdoors captures the culture of tailgating at Razorback games, but on a larger scale, Smith said.

“There’s already an infrastructure for such festivities,” he said.

Smith said he has spoke with officials at the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce and Experience Fayetteville about the potential of such an ordinance.

“There’s definitely conversation happening,” he said.

Bill Burckart, a Bentonville City Council member, said there have been discussions in Bentonville about creating an ordinance that allows people to drink alcohol outdoors in entertainment districts.

Burckart also cited businesses being able to serve alcohol in outdoor patios.

“Questions have arisen in the past — can we do this or can we do that,” Burckart said. “It has been dealt with on an individual basis, but not as a community as a whole.”

Burckart said implementing such an ordinance is not a move that should be made recklessly.

“I’m open to the idea, but I would need to see all the pros and cons before I could make a judgment on it,” Burckart said.

Smith also said a careful process is necessary to implement an ordinance that allows people to drink alcohol outside.

“I think with the implementation, we’d have to make sure it’s well thought through and involve the police department… [take into account] the logistics of that and what there concerns might be,” he said.

Springdale Mayor Doug Sprouse said there are currently no efforts in his city to allow alcohol consumption outdoors.

However, Sprouse said he wouldn’t be surprised if such an ordinance was pursued in the future.

“I would imagine for some businesses and restaurants it would be a positive thing, but I don’t have a position on it yet,” Spouse said. “We haven’t delved into it yet at the council level, which is where it would have to be decided.”

Ben Cline, public information officer for the City of Rogers, released the following statement on whether Rogers will ever establish an entertainment district ordinance that allows alcohol to be consumed outdoors.

“The City of Rogers currently does not have an entertainment district. We’re exploring options for temporary pop up events, with plans to expand to a more permanent district in the future,” Cline said.

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