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Curfew change could be coming for Iowa City's underage venue-goers

BY NICK HASSETT | JANUARY 28, 2013 5:00 AM

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The music scene in Iowa City has been described as vibrant, fresh, and exciting, but for underage music lovers, the experience at local venues can often be ruined by costly curfew citations.

The Iowa City City Council is currently considering a change in the policy forbidding 19- and 20-year-olds to be in entertainment venues after midnight, after a mutual effort from the city and local venues.

The policy change faced its first test in the City Council on Jan. 22, when councilors approved the measure on a 7-0 vote. The ordinance will require two more readings to pass into law.

Scott Kading, owner of the Yacht Club, 13 S. Linn St., said the old policy is more harmful to concert-goers than the venue.

“[The policy] has caused kids who forget about the curfew to get a $300 ticket,” he said. “We’ve had mutual contact with the city; they’re real open to ideas. We’re not trying to serve underage kids.”

Trenton Dickel, general manager at the Mill, 120 E. Buthe rlington St., said it was hard to tell exactly how the curfew had affected business.

“It’s hard to quantify something like that,” he said. “You don’t know what you lose if they never come in, but it definitely has an impact.”

For Dickel, the policy change was a matter of fairness.

“A lot of people want to be able to view and take part in music shows,” he said. “Why should someone who’s 19 or 20 not be able to?”

In passing the first reading of the policy change, councilors offered various reasons for their support of the measure.

Councilor Susan Mims thought the council should support the changes.

“This is an effort on the city’s part to make accommodations where reasonable to allow those under 21 to partake in venues,” she said. “I’m very supportive of this.”

Councilor Connie Champion was also in favor.

“The venue people seem to stay out of trouble,” she said. “It can be done.”

Kelly Bender, the campus-community harm-reduction-initiatives coordinator for the Partnership for Alcohol Safety, said the venues have shown they are able to follow the law.

“Looking at the data, it certainly appears they’re handling it responsibly,” she said. “It’s important for us to support music venues and businesses that are doing the right thing.”

However, Bender stressed that the classifications of an entertainment venue would be strict, and it wouldn’t be easy for bars to establish the criteria required to become a venue.

“Ultimately, it’s the city’s decision, but we’re all in this together,” she said. “We’re part of the same mission.”

UI sophomore Geoff Cronin, who has been to several shows downtown, thought the policy changes made sense.

“It didn’t really seem like people were there to get beer; they’re just at a concert,” he said.


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