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Booze will flow at Salt Palace

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Reporters coming to town for the Olympics will be able to get a mixed drink or a beer without leaving the main media center.

Seven local organizations made sure of that Friday, securing permits from the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. The state thumbs-up is contingent upon local government approval, Salt Lake City in this case.

The Salt Lake Organizing Committee plans to set up a fine dining restaurant, a cafeteria and a bar in the Salt Palace Convention Center, said SLOC spokeswoman Vania Grandi.

Organizations that want to sell liquor during the 2002 Winter Games must obtain a single-event permit from the state, which is good for three days and limited to two per year.

To get around the restricted duration, an organization needs several sponsors to string a series of back-to-back permits together for longer events like the Winter Games.

SLOC lined up seven sponsors for the main media center, including the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Alliance and the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association.

The 11 total permits will cover 33 days from Jan. 25 to Feb. 26.

Olympic organizers expect about 9,000 credentialed reporters to cover the Games.

But journalists, especially those working on late-hour deadlines, might not be able to unwind with a drink whenever they want. The temporary eateries and bar are subject to state laws regarding when alcohol may served. For restaurants it's noon to midnight; private clubs 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. The hours are squeezed down on Sundays and holidays.

"As far as state law, we will abide to it completely," Grandi said.

Grandi said SLOC hasn't figured out the hours for the three eating and drinking areas but anticipated the cafeteria would run 24 hours a day, while the bar and dining room would be open from 11 a.m. to midnight.

"If we do open earlier, we'll serve coffee and snacks and those sorts of things," she said.

E-mail: romboy@desnews.com