Beer sales at adult sporting events in Wheeling's Heritage Park could still be on tap as the village board postponed a vote Monday on the park district's request to allow it.
Village President Dean Argiris, who last month voted against a liquor license for the facility, kept the issue alive Monday by suggesting Matt Wehby, the district's director of park and recreation services, return with more information at the May 5 board meeting.
"Beer sales are a key component toward the success of Heritage Park," Wehby told the board. The sales are often a requirement to attract larger regional and national baseball and softball tournaments, he said.
"Tournaments are drivers of tourism," Wehby added. "They increase exposure to Wheeling and bring additional dollars to restaurants and hotels."
Argiris said after the meeting that he might change his opinion and wanted Trustee Bill Hein, who had supported beer sales at an earlier meeting, to be able to vote on the issue. Hein was absent Monday due to the death of his mother.
The village president said park district staff members first would need to bring more information and meet with Village Attorney Jim Ferolo to work out details for a new type of liquor license.
The village board in March voted 4-3 against allowing beer sales at the recently renovated park. Trustee Robert Heer, who was among the board members who supported the sales, said Monday he can no longer vote or contribute to the discussion because his son works for the park district.
Under the park district's proposal, beer would be confined to the pathways and seating area around the concession stand, between the park's four ball fields. Barriers and staff members would prevent anyone from carrying the plastic bottles elsewhere in the park.
Trustees Kenneth R. Brady and Mary Krueger, who along with David Vogel, voted against the beer sales last month, complained about people drinking beer from the trunks of cars in the park's parking lots during recent tournaments. Wehby said that behavior usually decreases when players realize beer is available for sale in the park.
Trustee Ray Lang said the village should let the park district staff prove it can handle alcohol sales instead of assuming it can't.
"I think we owe it to them," said Lang, who had voted in favor of the sales in March.
The park's new athletic complex, which features four artificial turf fields and a two-story concession stand, is among the first parts of a $38 million park renovation to be complete.