Indiana liquor law could crimp Super Bowl parties

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Rich Pontolillo might merit a toast for his Super Bowl party preparations. He has beer and liquor stocked up ahead of the first Super Bowl ever held in his home state.

In Indiana, he didn't have much choice about planning ahead: The state is among a handful that ban carryout liquor sales on Sundays, even with the NFL's most-celebrated spectacle on the schedule.

"It just requires some advance planning," shrugs Pontolillo, a 54-year-old remodeling contractor from Indy.

There was never much chance of getting Indiana's "blue law" suspended, just this once. A spokeswoman for Gov. Mitch Daniels, Jane Jankowski, said the issue was never raised and some of the city's business owners say they understand why.

"I'm not surprised at all," said Paul Thistle, general manager of the downtown Kahn's Fine Wines and Spirits and two other locations nearby. "If they waive it for this event, then they have to defend themselves for not waiving it at other events. It puts them in a difficult position."

The nation's few remaining blue laws are mostly in the South and Midwest and tend to limit liquor or car sales on Sundays. The name is believed to have derived either from 18th century usage of the word "blue" to disparage those with puritanical beliefs or from an early set of rules in New Haven, Conn., that were printed on blue paper.

Indiana restaurants and taverns can get permits to serve alcohol for on-premises consumption from 7 a.m. through the wee hours of the next day all week long, including Sundays. And nothing forbids anyone 21 or older from walking around outside with a beer or cocktail, prompting many Indy eateries to expand their outside seating onto adjacent parking lots and sidewalks in the run-up to Sunday night's game.

But state law bars liquor and convenience stores from selling carryout booze after 3 a.m. Sunday until 7 a.m. Monday, leaving Super Bowl revelers — perhaps out-of-towners not versed in all things Indiana — in the lurch if they go looking for an 11th-hour six-pack or bottle of wine on game day.

Thistle said many visiting fans already have placed orders. And he plans to close his businesses two hours later — at 1 a.m. — in the days preceding the Super Bowl, taking full advantage of an "uptick" in sales even before the big wave of out-of-state fans arrive.

"Business so far is probably double or triple what it normally is, and we expect the coming weekend to be better," he said.

As vice president of a company that has 22 liquor stores in Indianapolis, United Package Liquors' Brad Rider would have liked to see an exception made for Super Bowl Sunday. But he said he does not favor lifting the law altogether simply because it's not feasible to staff his stores to sell only a small list of products allowed by law, 10 items in all.

Far from Indy, one community is making a change.

With some 2,400 residents, Dillingham, Alaska, is lifting its ban on alcohol sales at its restaurants and bars for all Super Bowl Sundays going forward, though liquor stores will remain closed. The reprieve had been temporarily in place last year and proved trouble-free, prompting it to be made permanent last month in a town some 1,665 miles from the nearest NFL team — Seattle's Seahawks.

Back in Indiana, Rider figures the homestate Hoosiers — and their Super Bowl visitors — won't struggle finding spirits this Sunday, ban or no ban.

"Not at all," he says.


  • cold coke please
    Try buying a cold coke or pepsi from a liquor store. The state says you cant. ok i am for peeling back the sunday sales but also peel back the foolish laws that say you cant sell cold soft drinks at a liquor store. Talk about foolish.
  • Open sunday
    If you don't want to be open on Sunday, don't be open on Sunday. Why do private liquor stores need the govmt to step in to protect their profits? Seems everyone wants less govmt regulation, except where they benefit from it.
    • All about Money
      It's all about the $. The consumer is more likely to "over buy" alcohol on Saturday, boosting the sales for the liquor store owners. This extra revenue is great for the liquor store owner because they don't have to pay for staff and don't have to pay for the operating expenses of opening up on Sunday. Basically, they get all of Sunday's sales without the operation costs of opening up on Sunday.

      My question is this: how can the other 40+ states that allow the sale of carryout alcohol on Sunday, report liquor store profits on Sunday but the liquor store owners in Indiana can't turn a profit without the blue law?
      • Local Brews
        You can buy carryout liquor from Indy's best local micro-brews. Try Sun King or Fountain Square Brewery!!!!!
      • Write their own law
        "As vice president of a company that has 22 liquor stores in Indianapolis, United Package Liquors' Brad Rider would have liked to see an exception made for Super Bowl Sunday. But he said he does not favor lifting the law altogether simply because it's not feasible to staff his stores to sell only a small list of products allowed by law, 10 items in all"...
        well how convenient for him, we should base all our laws on the interests of a few businesses..
      • Nonsense
        Another reason the blue law should be repealed. It is ok to drink in a bar all day, or walk around with open liquor, but you can buy it in a store to take home? Why not ban Sunday tobacco sales?
        This is 2012, many people do their grocery shopping and other errands on Sunday.
      • Right To Work
        Suddenly I see the opportunity for hundreds of folks to make a few extra dollars on Sunday. Get your coolers filled with beer and wine coolers and get downtown on Sunday Morning. The more creative vendors should have an "On The Go Pack" that includes optional snack items. Come on IMPD, give these beer vendors a little slack.
      • One Day Pass
        This is where the State Legislator dropped the ball. All that was needed one a "One Day Pass" for Sunday, February 5th.

      Post a comment to this story

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Aaron is my fav!

      2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

      3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

      4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

      5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...