Tap on beer sales at S. Tahoe ice rink may be cut off


By Kathryn Reed

While beer is available at the South Lake Tahoe ice rink, those days may be numbered.

City resident Eric Thelin filed a petition with the Alcoholic Beverage Control to prevent the sale of alcohol at the city owned rink. While South Tahoe owns the facility, it is Tahoe Sports Entertainment that runs it and sought to sell beer.

Administrative Law Judge Nicholas R. Loehr sided with Thelin, though not necessarily for the reasons he was arguing.

Loehr’s decision is that for the city to be collecting a percentage of the gross sales from the ice rink operators that include alcohol sales it presents a conflict for the city in how ABC licenses are issued. Cities are not allowed to own a license.

City Manager Nancy Kerry said one alternative is to tweak the contract so gross sales do not include alcohol.

City Attorney Patrick Enright told Lake Tahoe News the judge’s ruling “seems like a broad interpretation” of how the city is supposed to deal with concessionaires selling alcohol.

If the ruling stands, the city would have to look at all of its concessionaire agreements – including the one with the restaurant at Lake Tahoe Airport, where a large percentage of its sales are alcohol.

Thelin’s issue is with the effects of alcohol on an ice rink. The skater said when he was in Santa Clarita the rink operators got a liquor license. He said the whole mood of the place changed, people were skating impaired and the attendance declined. This in turn, he said, led to prices going up for ice time.

The ABC is weighing if it wants to challenge the judge’s rule.

TSE owner Chris Cefalu did not return a phone call.

“I’m in limbo waiting for the next move,” Thelin said.

And Enright said he is investigating what other locales do in similar situations.



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Comments (17)
  1. JohnnyGP says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    I can kind of understand the legal reasons for the City not able to sell alcohol and it seems Nancy Kerry found a solution. Good for her! One would think that solves the problem, but we still have one problem left – Eric Thelin. Eric, I don’t know what your real issue is with beer being sold at the Ice Arena, but your logic is a bit without merit. “…in Santa Clarita the rink operators got a liquor license. … the whole mood of the place changed, people were skating impaired and the attendance declined. This in turn, he said, led to prices going up for ice time.” The Tahoe Ice Arena has been selling beer already, so continuing to sell beer is not going to CHANGE the mood, it will KEEP the current mood. Are you currently seeing impaired skaters? Is the CURRENT family atmosphere not to your particular liking or expectation? I take my son to the ice arena and I enjoy a cold beer with my snack or lunch. I have never, as in NEVER seen more than one other person ordering a beer at the same time. Doesn’t sound like the Santa Clarita situation you describe. If you have an issue with others enjoying a beer off the ice, I suggest you take up another sport or move to a dry county. But please don’t limit other patron’s enjoyment. When the Ice Arena changes it’s mood to one of undesirability, then let address this issue. In the meanwhile, the city is enjoying a minuscule amount of extra tax revenue at a time when every minuscule amount helps. I am not sure what your background is, but there are such things as responsible beer drinkers.

    I welcome your reply in case I misunderstood your concern.

  2. Steve says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    Unquestionably, the city is simply inviting more trouble, problems, and risk of injury or worse, by allowing alcohol sales at the city ice rink. It is unwise for the city to expose its taxpayers to such clear risks of injury and lawsuits. After Snow Globe, let’s encourage sober, safer oversight of city events and facilities.

  3. JohnnyGP says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    Steve, are you seeing an issue now? My experiences at this arena. as mentioned earlier, are a few patrons are enjoying one maybe two beers. Are you saying our Ice Arena selling beer equates to the level of consumption at the Snow Globe event? I am not seeing the analogy. Are you witnessing drunk skaters or attendees? I would like to understand yours and Eric’s concern.

  4. PeteC says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Let JohnJP enjoy his beer. When did our society get so uptight?
    Let’s focus on bigger, more important issues Lake Tahoe.

  5. DeniseB says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    If there have not been any issues with alcohol consumption thus far, why the ruckus? Tahoe needs the money and if responsible alcohol consumption can raise a few dollars, why change the status quo?

  6. Stan says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    What is the real agenda here? How many incidents of improper behavior at the rink have been attributed to too much alcohol? And what else does Eric want to prohibit the public from participating in? What does a raucous event aimed at the young X-Games crowd have to do with the family atmosphere of the ice rink?

    When a conservative doesn’t like something, he/she doesn’t participate. When a liberal doesn’t like something, he/she doesn’t want anyone to participate.

  7. Old Long Skiis says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    Old timers! I just heard Bert Lucido passed away. Bert was a great guy, I went to school with him back at STHS in the 60’s and 70’s.
    He would always wave to me from the school bus he drove for so many years or his white pick up when he wasn’t driving all those kids to and from school.
    His family and this town lost a truly genuine good guy. I’ll miss you Bert. My condolences to his family. Bob Rockwell

  8. SCTahoe says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    More nanny state ridiculousness. Thanks Eric for making something out of nothing!

    The judge is wrong on two fronts. First he is taking a petition and, instead of simply dismissing it on its merits, is imposing his own agenda. Second, either the city owns the liquor license or it does not. I cannot believe that a city cannot sublease to someone intending to sell liquor and/or that a city cannot benefit in said sales. What of all the taxpayer funded stadiums etc. across the state? What about the Beacon Restaurant on govt land? The great State of California and the City of SLT have no problems benefiting from the private sales and licencing of alcohol through taxation.
    And now this carries over to the Airport?
    Yep! Thanks Eric.

  9. Biggerpicture says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    Lakeview Commons! Alcohol sold on concert nights.

  10. Dogula says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    Yep. Legislated to death. Sideways, backwards, and forward, so that even the folks who make the regulations can’t figure them out, or even why they made them in the first place.

  11. Biggerpicture says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    I think LITIGATED to death better sums up our nations issues!

  12. tahoeadvocate says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    Tell Thelin and Loehr to come up the the extra money.
    A contract is a contract until it’s expired.

  13. Dogula says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    “A contract is a contract until it’s expired.”
    That used to be true. Tell that to the assortment of city managers, councilmembers, sports stars, etc. who break their contracts and walk with no consequences. A contract means nothing anymore, other than a few extra bucks for the lawyers who make arrangements for its nullification.

  14. Bigsky says - Posted: January 27, 2013

    We have numerous medalist in the xgames and nothing about this is news. That’s the kind of positive news we all need, should be proud of, and need more of. We have great kids this town that are international stars. Great things to reward and promote but we just cant seem to focus on the positive.

  15. admin says - Posted: January 27, 2013


    Why don’t you read the Sports-Outdoors section?

    Kathryn Reed, LTN publisher

  16. Rick says - Posted: January 28, 2013

    I think this is one guy who is a stick in the mud. I have skated at the Santa Clarita Rink on a number of occasions and have competing in races at the rink. I know a number of skaters at the rink and they would beg to differ about the atmosphere – it actually is a rather pleasant place to skate.

    I regularly skate at the Sharks Ice Rink in San Jose (owned by the city and managed by the Sharks). They have a great bar and restaurant upstairs (Stanley’s) and they serve great microbrews and pretty good wine. The rink is hopping with a number of high level skaters from all ice sports. In fact Polina Edmunds who skates at SJ just won Nationals in the Junior Division – who knows she may well be a player for the 2018 Olympics. The atmosphere is the best of any rink I have been to. It all comes down to how management oversees the sale of beer at the rink.

    I regularly skate at the Tahoe Rink and think improvements by having a better menu and offering beer can really improve the opportunity for this rink to make the City money.


  17. Lisa says - Posted: January 28, 2013

    I spend up to 4 days a week, 1-2 hours at a time at rinks throughout California, while most of it is at the Fremont rink. I am also a pretty conservative parent who rarely drinks and has a very low tolerance for drunks. In the last 12 years, I have NEVER seen bad behavior from a skater or observer due to alcohol. In fact, much of my time is spent socializing with other skate parents over coffee or chocolate and a meal in the rink restaurant. It is about making the rink a nice place to be, a great place to watch hockey games and a waybring money into the city coffers. There is no reason that one person should hold up the desires of many, just because he perceived of a change, especially when it possibly had no actual basis in fact. The Tahoe rink is a gem and I want to see it succeed and prosper.