Carol Stream Park District ponders beer, wine sales
Participants in adult sporting events and spectators at McCaslin Park in Carol Stream might soon be able to purchase beer and wine from the park's concession stand.
Park district officials say they are looking into that possibility in an attempt to collect additional revenue, though it's too early to say if it will become a reality.
The park board has set up an ad hoc committee to look into the issue, and members plan to evaluate a one-time service of alcohol from the McCaslin Park concession stand during an adult softball tournament Oct. 20 and 21.
Park districts throughout the region commonly permit the sale of alcohol at special events and festivals at parks, as well as those that operate golf courses or banquet facilities. But it's far less common to sell alcohol permanently from park concession stands.
Carol Stream Park District Executive Director Arnie Biondo said staff members are evaluating alcohol service at park districts in Mount Prospect, Crystal Lake and Joliet, which sell either beer or wine at softball venues.
"The idea is, can we generate some additional revenue that goes back into the park and fields for upkeep, and would this be something that would be an addition to the experience for adults?" Biondo said.
Ultimately, it's up to the park board to decide, though the district also would need a liquor license from DuPage County for McCaslin Park, which is in an unincorporated area at North Avenue and St. Charles Road.
Should the park board decide to allow alcohol service at other parks within village limits, liquor licenses would be subject to the approval of the Carol Stream village board.
Park commissioners have ruled out allowing alcohol sales during youth athletic events, which also are held at McCaslin.
"This would have to be separate from any type of kids event," Biondo said. "We're not going to let the concessionaire put up a Miller or Bud lighted sign."
The softball tournament in October will serve as a trial run. Should alcohol service prove to yield good sales, then the plan may be worth a closer look, Biondo said. If not, the idea could be dropped.
Park staff members will be on hand at the tournament to evaluate participant behavior and event logistics.
Biondo said the three park districts his staff has talked to haven't reported problems with patrons being overserved or any other unruly behavior as a result of alcohol sales.
In Mount Prospect, beer has been sold at the Majewski Athletic Complex since the mid-1980s, when the park first started hosting national softball tournaments, said Walt Cook, the park district's chief executive officer.
Trained and licensed park staffers sell beer for $2 for a 12-ounce cup and hard lemonade from the park's concession stand. Adult athletic events are always held there -- save for a yearly girls youth tournament, when alcohol is not served, Cook said.
Adult and youth athletic events are both held at Carol Stream's McCaslin Park, which also has a miniature golf area.
The catalyst for in-park beer sales in Mount Prospect?
"It was revenue," Cook said. "In the '80s and '90s we were the king in 16-inch softball."
Today, revenues from alcohol sales at Majewski ebb and flow with the state of the economy and weather conditions, Cook said.
In Crystal Lake, alcohol is served in a beer garden at the Boncosky Athletic Complex at Lippold Park -- also home to many softball games, said Jenny Leech, a park district spokeswoman.
Park employees check IDs and issue wristbands to get into the beer garden. Revenues from alcohol sales have helped fund field improvements at Boncosky, Leech said.
A final decision on alcohol sales in Carol Stream could come from the park board as early as February, Biondo said.
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