BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight said she intends to push a proposal to allow BREC to sell alcohol at its facilities.
McKnight, who hopes to put the request before the Metro Council by early next year, said allowing alcohol sales would bring in needed revenue for the parish’s park system, though she couldn’t say how much.
In October, the Metro Council passed a measure relaxing the parish’s blue laws regarding alcohol sales, but only after a lengthy and sometimes contentious debate.
Before she can make the request to the Metro Council, however, McKnight’s plan will have to be vetted by a committee of the East Baton Rouge Parish Recreation and Park Commission and then by the full nine-member commission that oversees the parish’s park system.
McKnight said the money alcohol sales could bring in are sorely needed.
In June, the park’s commission refused to roll-forward the system’s property tax, which McKnight said will result in a loss of $1.488 million in revenue something McKnight howpes alcohol sales can help offset.
“I am not saying it will solve our entire issue, but it would definitely help a great deal,” she said.
Currently, alcohol is permitted under specific conditions at certain BREC facilities — the Baton Rouge Fairgrounds, the Baton Rouge Gallery, Magnolia Mound Plantation, the Baton Rouge Zoo, Goldsby Field and Santa Maria Golf Course.
To allow alcohol on other facilities requires a waiver approved by both the BREC Commission and the Metro Council, McKnight said.
Expanding alcohol sales to other facilities would have to be approached carefully, McKnight said.
“What I would like to do is have permission to serve in conjunction with food operations facility rentals and events,” she said.
BREC would not sell alcohol at locations where there are swimming pools, like Liberty Lagoon, or at the Perkins Road extreme sports park, she said.
“Any event connected to a children’s area, I would not want to have beer and wine unless it was in a specific area,” like a beer tent, she said.
McKnight said BREC officials have not estimated the amount of money that alcohol sales could bring in. However, she said, it could mean a substantial increase in facility rental at places, such as Womack Park, which has a ballroom.
“We could rent that thing every night if we were allowed to sell and serve there,” she said.
McKnight has been vocal in the past about wanting to sell beer and wine at the commission’s six golf courses that don’t currently sell alcohol.
City-parish ordinances permit alcohol sales in the lounge and restaurant at Santa Maria Golf Course.
Allowing BREC to sell to golfers, McKnight said, would just be capitalizing on what is already done.
“We know that people are consuming already on the golf courses,” she said. “We see evidence in our trash receptacles.”
Allowing alcohol sales at BREC courses was one recommendation made to the Commission in a report prepared by the two player development managers with the PGA of America’s Golf 2.0 program, which helps golf facilities devise ways to increase play and revenue..
“Obviously, alcohol sales is a revenue generator,” said Rich Richeson, one of the two golf professionals who wrote the report.
Being able to offer alcohol would enable BREC courses to be able to lure more corporate events and tournaments, he said.
“From a beer standpoint, you are talking about booking a 100-player tournament,” he said. “When a corporate event comes in, they want the ability to have alcohol.”
Richeson also said that alcohol can be sold at higher profit than other items typically sold in golf shops.
Sales of items such as shirts, gloves and hats have cost 60 to 80 cents for each dollar made, he said.
Alcohol, on the other hand, may only cost 30 cents for each dollar earned, he said.
Alcohol has an added benefit of turning over quickly, Richeson said.
“You don’t have to maintain a huge inventory,” he said.
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