Ale no! Bengals games could be beer-free
Vendor’s liquor permit tied up in unpaid tax issue
By Dave Lance
e-mail address: mailto:email@example.com
Dayton Daily News
CINCINNATI | Watching the perennial cellar-dwelling Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium might become more sobering than it already is.
New York-based Ogden American Food Services Inc. holds the liquor permit at the stadium owned by Hamilton County, but is transferring ownership to Aramark American Food Service Inc. The Ohio Department of Taxation has confirmed that Ogden has some delinquent sales and/or withholding taxes — the department cannot say how much — and the ownership transfer is pending until those taxes are paid.
And if the transfer is up in the air, so is the permit renewal, which the Ohio Division of Liquor Control said needs to be completed by next month or the Bengals could face the prospect of beer-free home games.
The Bengals open their home schedule Aug. 16 in an preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
“The renewal date is June 1, so they need to renew here pretty shortly,” said Matt Mullins, spokesman for the Ohio Division of Liquor Control. “What the statute actually says is they can apply as far as 30 days beyond (June 1), but be charged a 10 percent penalty (of permit fees). If the renewal is not postmarked 15 days prior to June 1, they'll be charged 10 percent.”
Mullins said the Division of Liquor Control has received Ogden’s permit renewal application and it will not be docked the late-postmark fee.
“By statute, our division cannot renew a permit until the Department of Taxation tells us it's OK to do so,” Mullins said. “We received a ‘Do Not Proceed’ letter from the Department of Taxation, which indicates there are some delinquent sales and/or withholding taxes.”
Aramark spokeswoman Debbie Albert would not comment on Ogden’s tax problems.
“All I can tell you is the (permit application) paperwork was filed May 16,” she said.
The Ohio Division of Liquor Control lists Ogden’s offices at 2 Pennsylvania Plaza, New York City. The phone number at that location is no longer in service.
But Ogden also faces other legal issues. The Liquor Control Commission has yet to hear the case involving a Paul Brown Stadium beer vendor who was cited for selling beer to under-age persons during a Bengals game Nov. 17.
“That means two things,” said Mark Anderson, executive director of the commission. “The case has not wound its way through process and been sent out and a notice of hearing has not been sent for the permit holder scheduling their hearing date.
“We have a fairly significant backlog.”
As punishment, Ogden could conceivably lose its liquor permit. But Anderson said the likelihood of revocation is minimal.
“In this particular case, what the commissioners generally look at is the age of the underage individuals involved,” Anderson said. “They're going to look at that and probably use — I'm not committing them — but, based on my experience here, they would probably use the suspension, but give them the option to pay a financial forfeiture.”
Anderson said the commission could find the permit holder in violation, but assess no penalty, or they could suspend the holder’s liquor license for a number of days. One option involves the holder paying a $500 fine in lieu of serving the suspension, Anderson said.
The commission suspended the alcohol license at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena for 10 days last February after two underage informants bought beer during a Blue Jackets hockey game. A Franklin County judge ordered an indefinite stay in March and the suspension has yet to be served.
Following on an anonymous tip, the Ohio Department of Public Safety sent undercover agents to a Paul Brown Stadium bar Nov. 17, according to department officials.
Five offenders — one was 19, the others 20 — were charged with underage drinking, department officials said. Jarmas R. McNeal of Indianapolis was charged with selling beer to minors, according to department documents.
“We certainly are concerned if rules like that are not being followed by the concessionaire,” Bengals spokesman Jack Brennan said. “We're confident if the mistake was made they will learn from it and not let it happen again.”
Said Albert: “We take the safe service of alcohol very seriously. The safety of our patrons is always our top priority. All of our vendors are trained in the safe service of alcohol and we regret that apparently one of our servers may not have complied with our instructions.”
The Bengals, through Brennan, said they don’t know anything about Ogden’s tax issues.
Question! How exactly are the bungle fans going to enjoy the home games if they can't drink their troubles away? hehehe