Bars may miss out on cup fans
RUGBY fans in Auckland may need to look elsewhere for a pint during this year’s World Cup.
The sport’s showpiece event is only months away but bars will be restricted in what games they can show.
Auckland Council’s proposed Local Alcohol Policy will continue to see onlicence trading hours within the CBD cease between 4am and 8am.
Others outside the central city zone will need to shut their doors at 3am, an hour earlier than enforced by the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act of December 2012.
The problem is most of the big Rugby World Cup matches, which kick off in September, fall inside those times.
There are 25 games affected, including the All Blacks’ opening match against Argentina, the quarterfinals, semifinals and the grand final which kicks off at 5am.
Council alcohol licensing manager Rob Abbott says premises can apply for special licenses to the District Licensing Committee (DLC).
‘‘Whether it issues them is its prerogative – they will assess each application. The DLC approved special licences for a small amount of bars during the Fifa World Cup, with most having just select days during the period of the cup, in other words, not the whole time.
‘‘Council licensing inspectors were happy with the compliance of premises.’’
This means bars would need to host an ‘‘event’’ exclusive to their premises, with the focus of the event not on the televised feature of a sports match.
As of June 12 the council had only received one appeal regarding the LAP, which wasn’t from a bar or restaurant.
Venue manager at downtown bar The Fox Tavern Justine Smith says she’s happy to meet the council halfway so they can open for the games.
However, in the past it has been ‘‘extremely difficult’’ and expensive to open for customers wanting to watch popular events like the Fifa World Cup and FA Cup Final since the rule changes in 2012, she says.
‘‘Police just want to keep the areas safe . . . which is what we want,’’ Smith says.
‘‘But council don’t seem prepared to budge. They seem to think that if they did it with us it would create a landslide of bars wanting to do the same.’’
Smith says the bar will apply for a special licence.
‘‘It’s not about attracting drinkers, it’s about sports fans,’’ Smith says. ‘‘We’ve had so many dads bringing their boys in for the early morning games,’’ Smith says.
Rogan Thickett is duty manager of The Paddington Bar and Restaurant in Parnell. She says the policy will hurt business.
‘‘Because we’re a sports bar we rely heavily on sports games, especially the All Blacks. Forty per cent of our take on a Friday night, for example, would come from people watching a game.’’
Sian Kerr is duty manager of the Fort Lane bar The Right Track and says if people want to watch a game at 4am, they’ll drink regardless. Changes to closing times have helped clean up the streets, Kerr says, but exceptions should be made.
‘‘In any other situation I personally don’t see why anyone should be out after 4am. But they need to consider sports played at that time.’’
An All Blacks game is always a big drawcard for pubs.