AUGUSTA, Maine — A late bill from a top legislative Democrat would make it easier for Maine’s large outdoor venues to sell liquor ahead of the busy season.
Beer and wine is commonly served at these venues, but the measure from House Majority Leader Michelle Dunphy, D-Old Town, would add spirits to the list of alcoholic beverages allowed under a liquor license at outdoor stadiums with more than 3,000 seats. Under current law, they need to seek new permits for each event if they want to sell spirits.
The change was driven by the operators of the Maine Savings Amphitheater, a city-owned concert venue in Bangor, but it would also apply to the Oxford Plains Speedway in Oxford and Hadlock Field in Portland. Opening day for the Portland Sea Dogs, the Double-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, is on April 8 at Hadlock Field, making the bill timely for venues.
“I like the streamlining of anything,” Dunphy said. “People are looking forward to going back to concerts or baseball or Oxford Plains, and this will help [businesses] out and promote Maine’s tourism season.”
The bill was quickly turned around by Dunphy, who said she was approached by Waterfront Concerts on the issue last week. Alex Gray, president of the concert business that uses the Bangor riverfront venue, said he and his father talked to Dunphy because the bill would save the business a lot of time.
“It creates less work for everybody,” he said.
Maine has been liberalizing liquor laws recently, with lawmakers approving a bill this week allowing restaurants to sell to-go alcoholic beverages until 2025. The measures have been presented as a way to provide revenue for businesses struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic but look like they will largely remain in effect.
Despite the late introduction of the bill, Dunphy said she was confident it could move through the Legislature quickly because it is a relatively minor change that does not require state funding.
Correction: An earlier version of this story used a dated name for the Maine Savings Amphitheater in Bangor.