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Provo arena to sell beer during Games

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PROVO ? Provo officials won't allow the city's minor league baseball team to serve beer at its games, but it will permit alcohol sales at the Peaks Ice Arena during the Olympics.

Two days after saying a beer license for the Peaks had not been requested, mayoral spokesman Mike Mower said his boss had, in fact, signed a permit for beer sales at the Peaks during the Olympics.

"We were not aware a beer license for the Peaks had been issued until this morning," Mower said Friday. "We made a mistake when we said otherwise."

Mower said Mayor Lewis Billings signed the class C beer license for the Compass Group, an Olympic food vendor, Wednesday, not realizing it was for the Peaks, even though it was the only beer license he signed that day.

More than a year ago, Billings' staff asked the City Council to change an ordinance prohibiting beer sales at the Peaks. Several council members suggested doing so would send the wrong message to the youth of the city: beer at sporting events is bad unless it pays for the Olympics.

Billings' staff then said a class B beer license could be issued without changing any laws. Days later Billings said a class B license, which applies only to "bona fide restaurants," would not work and an ordinance change may be necessary.

The issue was not discussed publicly for more than a year and now that a class C license has been issued, it is not clear why Billings' staff sought an ordinance change in the first place.

Mower said city attorneys thought they would have to change the law because alcohol sale or consumption is prohibited at city-owned facilities.

Because the Peaks is not wholly owned by the city ? Provo and Utah County share ownership ? it does not have to comply with the ordinance, Mower said.

Council Chairman Stan Lockhart, who opposed changing the ordinance, says the issue has been blown out of proportion.

"I think we need to turn our focus on the Olympics themselves," he said. "As long as Olympic vendors follow the same process as every other entity, I am fine with it."

E-mail: jhyde@desnews.com