Managers at the Ralph Engelstad Arena and Alerus Center could soon be allowed to serve alcohol at events they sponsor outside those venues.

Grand Forks City Council members on Monday gave a preliminary thumbs-up to a measure that would allow the arena and the center to ask to serve alcohol at “approved events and locations” where either is organizing, developing and financing a sporting or entertainment event.

The council’s committee of the whole voted to put the matter before the council proper later this month.

The proposal, supporters said, would help the venues’ managers book acts that might otherwise be dwarfed by the arena or center, both of which seat thousands of people. The Ralph seats 11,000 and the Alerus Center approximately 21,000. Both traditionally bring in large concerts and other events that pack those venues, and especially in recent years.

But Bill Vasicek, a member of the Grand Forks Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition, said the coalition is worried about the facilities’ managers serving alcohol at spaces like the smaller ICON Sports Center, a youth ice arena on the city’s far south side.

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“I’m concerned about opening that door,” Vasicek told council members.

Jody Hodgson, the Ralph Engelstad Arena general manager, said the aim isn’t make alcohol more available at events aimed at kids.

“That’s not our goal at all,” he said.

The lone “nay” vote to put the proposal before the City Council came from Ward 2 Councilwoman Katie Dachtler, who is worried about giving away planning power. She said she’d like to further amend the proposal to require city approval for events that serve alcohol somewhere besides the arena or center.

Not present at the Monday evening meeting were Mayor Michael Brown and Ward 3 Councilman Bret Weber.