Commission suspends alcohol sales at 4 Griffins games

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Van Andel Arena says there will be no alcoholic beverages served at four upcoming Grand Rapids Griffins hockey games.

The Michigan Liquor Control Commission has suspended the liquor license held by SMG Food and Beverage, the food and beverage provider for the arena, for hockey games on Oct. 23, 25, 26 and 30.

During those four games, no alcohol will be served in the arena, arena suites or hospitality areas. The arena says no alcoholic beverages can be brought into Van Andel at any time.

The temporary suspension comes after a Grand Rapids Police Department operation at a Griffins’ game on March 8. At that game, concessions staff and volunteers checked but failed to validate the vertical licenses of two patrons who were served alcohol on four separate occasions that evening, according to a news release from Van Andel. Michigan issues vertical licenses to people under the age of 21.

“We are very disappointed that there was a breakdown in procedures that led to these penalties. This is certainly not the norm. We have an exceptional track record of providing quality service by thousands of employees to more than 16 million patrons over the past 23 years. There have been no further incidents since this occurrence,” a news release from SMG said.

When Richard MacKeigan, the general manager, was asked if he was concerned about ticket sales he said, “We’ll see. The reality is the Griffins have been a spectacular team with a spectacular product. And that’s not just on the ice being two-time Calder Cup champions, but the fact that they put on a great show. The majority of people who come to the games are hockey fans — they are Griffins fans…”

MacKeigan added that he is now working on a promotion to offset any possible decline in sales.

The arena says it has fired the two employees and let go the two volunteers who served the minors.

Van Andel will start issuing a wrist band with your name on it if you are in fact 21 and still have a vertical ID. That name has to match a valid ID before you are served.

“It’s another opportunity for us to look at our practices and policies to try and improve, and that’s exactly what we are doing,” said MacKeigan.

This is the first time the Van Andel has had it’s liquor license suspended.

Back in March of 2009, a three-day suspension was ordered, but it was later waived and a fee was issued.

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