Last call goes to 2 a.m.

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June 23, 2003 // UPDATED 10:51 am - April 30, 2007
By: Scott Russell
Scott Russell

Minneapolis\' late night revelers and other night owls just got more drinking time. The City Council voted June 20 to extend last call from 1 a.m. to 2 a.m. for the roughly 470 establishments with city liquor licenses.

The vote was 11-2 with Councilmembers Paul Zerby (2nd Ward) and Gary Schiff (9th Ward) voting no.

The Council rejected plans to limit 2 a.m. closing to restricted areas, including Downtown, Uptown and other commercial districts.

Proponents of extending bar hours in Downtown only said the citywide plan unduly burdened residential neighborhoods. However, the majority said creating a special 2 a.m. district would confuse people and create safety problems as some chose to drive Downtown for one last bump.

In related changes, the Council extended bars\' permitted music, DJ and dancing hours from midnight to 2 p.m. Bars now also have until 2:30 a.m. to shut their doors.

The legislature passed a law effective July 1 giving cities the option to extend bar time. Bars wanting the extra hour have to pay a $200-$600 state fee depending on sales. Some on the Council wanted to pass the change in time for the 20,000-strong Shriner\'s convention arriving Downtown Wednesday, July 2.

Here\'s what some councilmembers said.

\"This is an effort to create a 24-hour city. This is an effort to help raise tax revenue to pay off our Target Center bonds as well as our Block E bonds. This is a lot larger than one just specific area.\" - Lisa Goodman (7th Ward)

\"I have 19 liquor licenses in my ward. I can\'t think of one where the adjoining neighbors would be happy they are staying open until 2 a.m. ... We need a new appropriation to police and licensing if we are expanding [bar time].\" - Gary Schiff (9th Ward)

\"We are a world-class convention town. We are taking another step in that direction. ... This is a big step forward. I hope we can do it with some sensitivity to those neighborhoods.\" - Council President Paul Ostrow

\"If you are being bothered - if you are having people use your front lawn as a urinal - we need to hear from you. ... I have not heard from neighbors in the 12th Ward of problems with bars.\" - Sandy Colvin-Roy (12th Ward)

\"Let the neighborhoods each decide. . . . This is not anti-business. ... We don\'t have to rush to judgment today.\" - Paul Zerby (2nd Ward)

\"I am not sure I want people squealing out of the Commodore at 1 in the morning, going past my house, in order to get Downtown so they can get at least two more drinks before things close up. ... I worry about that.\" - Dean Zimmermann (6th Ward), speaking against 2 a.m. closing for Downtown only