Maricopa City Council opted to initiate a study on selling alcohol at Copper Sky Regional Park during a May 16 meeting.
The study would investigate the financial benefits and risks of the city obtaining a license to sell alcohol in the park’s concession stands during adult sports tournaments. Currently, alcohol sold at the park is done through vendors during events.
The issue was brought up by Councilmember Bob Marsh and Vice Mayor Rich Vitiello, who both said the sales have the potential to bring additional revenue to Maricopa based on discussions with leaders from cities around the state.
“There are cities that have successfully gotten into the booze-selling business and handled all of the risks and rewards successfully,” Marsh said. “I would like to have it studied as an opportunity.”
“I have contacted a few different mayors throughout the state and Yuma has one of the most successful ones,” Vitiello said. He noted Yuma’s alcohol sales during its annual taco festival typically does “very well for the city.”
For Vitiello, obtaining the license could enable the city to collect additional revenue for its general fund and bring more sports events and visitors to Maricopa.
“I think we could just have (city staff) check it out and see if it’s something that we want to look at for Copper Sky,” Vitiello said. “Just look at something that could bring other tournaments to our city, that could also bring in income to the city.”
Vitiello said the idea arose from the annual Israel Calderon Benefit Softball Tournament, an event that raises funds for the family of a man seriously injured in a 2016 accident.
“Every year, we have the Izzy tournament, and it’s very costly to get an alcohol license,” Vitiello said. “The last three years, we bought a beer permit that cost x-amount of dollars and we have to have security out there. It gets costly and it takes away from the finances that go to the family. I suggested that we open up the concession stand and have the city sell beer.”
Other members of City Council expressed some hesitation in fully backing the move, noting the potential to take money from businesses.
“While I’m not opposed at all to looking at a future study … just on principle I would probably oppose based on the fact that I’m not sure the city wants to compete with private businesses,” said Councilmember Eric Goettl.
Mayor Nancy Smith and Councilmember Henry Wade agreed with Goettl, each stating they would prefer to see the results of the study before deciding.
However, Vitiello insisted this is not his intention.
“My goal is not to take away business from local vendors, like how Native Grill & Wings does the Salsa Festival or the other festivals we have in the city,” he said. “I’m just asking for (it to take place during) adult sports.”
Councilmember Vincent Manfredi opposed the idea.
“I don’t see the city of Maricopa being in the alcohol business,” Manfredi said. “Study away, but I don’t see myself in approval of that at all.”
A committee, comprised of Vitiello, Goettl and representatives from the city’s Parks and Recreation and Public Safety departments, will be established to conduct a study on the viability of such alcohol sales.
Vitiello estimated results from the study may be available by the end of summer and would be discussed at a future council meeting.
Vincent Manfredi is an owner of InMaricopa.