How will the 21 ordinance change Iowa 2011-2012?

Posted in: Iowa City Owl Iowa City News - Local Stories
With University of Iowa classes in full swing, Iowa City area businesses, bars & restaurants will be busy with the rush of new students and their families. From buying last minute supplies to grabbing a bite to eat after settling into a new dorm room, local establishments will be seeing a rush of business in the next couple of weeks. One question remains however; Heading into the 2011-2012 school year, and the 2nd year of the 21 ordinance in Iowa City, how will the downtown economy be affected?

As a college town with a known “drinking problem,” year-round Iowa City residents have welcomed the ordinance, and have been pleased with the change in the late-night downtown Iowa City atmosphere the absence of 19 & 20 year olds has brought. Many downtown businesses that only stay open during the day time hours say they have not seen a significant impact with the new ordinance, however the impact on bars, clubs and restaurants open later has been noticeable. In fact, several bars have closed their doors for good over the past year.

“If kids want to drink, they are going to drink. It isn’t a matter of when, but where.” said 10-year Iowa City resident Jason Briggs.

Briggs may bring up a valid point, as many citizens have suggested that decreased drinking in bars downtown may lead to increased drinking outside of the bar environment. Although these young adults are no longer welcome in most downtown establishments after 10pm, the risk of binge drinking could remain with access to unsupervised house parties.

"I think that keg sales are up," said an employee at a downtown liquor store who was not authorized to speak on the matter.

Some people have suggested these parties, in some cases, are even taking 21 and older business away from the bars, but he disagreed.

House parties don't usually have enough alcohol to go on all night, he said. He said "a lot of kids are going to these parties, but once 11 o'clock runs around," those 21 and up then head down to the bars while younger people wander downtown elsewhere.

"Gaging by this past weekend, I saw a lot of younger people going to get pizza and stuff," he said.
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