Downtown establishments agree to restrictions on sale, serving of alcohol

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Downtown State College will be nearly alcohol-free March 1 thanks to a town-gown collaboration targeting the destructive drinking holiday known as State Patty’s Day.

Owners of bars, restaurants and bottle shops were offered compensation from Penn State for not selling or serving alcohol for 24 hours on March 1. As of today (Feb. 26), 34 establishments out of the 35 that have been approached have agreed to the arrangement. All taverns accepted the terms. Many establishments will remain open for food service only.

“By changing the dynamics of downtown, law enforcement will be able to put heavier focus on apartment complexes, the neighborhoods and other off-campus student housing – the areas that have historically been the most troublesome on State Patty’s Day,” said State College Police Chief Tom King.

Terms of the compensation were determined by the maximum occupancy of each establishment: businesses with occupancy of 350 or more were offered $7,500; businesses with occupancy from 250-349 were offered $6,000; businesses with occupancy from 100-249 were offered $5,000; and businesses with occupancy levels less than 100 were offered $2,500. In total, the downtown establishments participating are expected to be paid $186,250. Beer distributors in the area also have been offered a stipend to not sell alcohol on Saturday and most have already accepted the offer.

The University is not using funding from tuition or state appropriations to compensate businesses. The compensation will be paid from parking fine revenues collected from student permit holders.

The businesses agreeing to the alcohol-free zone agreement are:

Allen Street Grill, Bar Bleu, The Brewery, Brewsky's Bottle Shop (West Beaver Avenue and South Pugh Street locations), Cafe 210, Chili's, Chrome, Chumley's, The Corner Room, Darkhorse, The Deli, Gingerbread Man, the Hopshop, Indigo, Inferno, Kildare's, Levels, Lion's Den, Local Whiskey, Mad Mex, Bill Pickle’s, The Phyrst, The Rathskeller, Rotelli, Rumors, The Saloon, the Shandygaff, Sharkies, Tarragon, The Tavern, Zeno's, Zeno’s to Go and Zola. 

Whiskers, in the Nittany Lion Inn, also will close.

Since its creation by students in 2007 through social media, the annual event has brought an increase in emergency room visits and crime, making downtown State College inhospitable and damaging the reputation of the study body. The creation of an alcohol-free zone last year played a significant role in the decline of arrests, citations and emergency room visits.

Since mid-January a task force of University and State College Borough leaders, students, tavern owners, community members and law enforcement officials has met weekly to discuss measures to weaken the holiday and make it unattractive for those who might travel to the area for the day of drinking.

Penn State students are countering the ill effects of State Patty’s Day through a highly visible volunteer initiative. The weekend of State Day of Service events currently has approximately 934 volunteers, contributing 2,800 hours of their time at 37 different agencies.

“A newfound partnership with both the Panhellenic and Interfraternity councils has lead to an anticipated 1,000 student volunteers -- a record 238 percent increase from last year,” said Zane Douglass, president of the Council of LionHearts, the umbrella organization for campus service leaders. “Collectively we are looking forward to engaging students from all areas of campus in service events and are proud to see so many fellow Penn Staters answering the call to make a positive contribution within the surrounding community.”

Also, the Penn State Interfraternity Council banned social functions during the State Patty’s Day weekend, and the Panhellenic Council adopted a no-guest policy for sorority floors in residence halls for the weekend. Students living in residence halls are again limited to one guest per room.

State College and University police will be heavily mobilized throughout the weekend and be supported by officers from the Pennsylvania State Police, Liquor Control Enforcement and regional police forces. Code enforcement offers also will have an increased presence, targeting noise, over occupancy, litter and other violations.

“It seems increasingly doubtful that anyone looking for a drunken festival will find one in our community on State Patty's Day,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims. "This day has proved dangerous, damaging and unnecessary. We hope to replace it with an event the entire community will embrace."

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Last Updated February 27, 2014