COLUMBUS: Some cities could create outdoor refreshment areas where revelers could walk outside with open containers of alcohol should the Ohio House sign off on legislation Wednesday.
The proposal, which if passed would head to the governor, allows cities of a certain size to create areas exempted from Ohio’s open-container law. That law generally prohibits a person from carrying an open container of beer or liquor in public.
An emergency clause in the bill would cause it to take effect immediately upon Gov. John Kasich’s signature.
The idea is to allow for entertainment districts similar to Bourbon Street in New Orleans and Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. Customers could legally buy and drink alcohol within the designated areas. But they wouldn’t be permitted to bring in their own drinks.
The bill’s backers have said that such districts could be created within areas such as Columbus’ Arena District, the Flats in Cleveland, the Warehouse District in Toledo and the Banks in Cincinnati.
Supporters want to create such areas in time for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in Cincinnati on July 14.
The Cincinnati Reds, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce had urged lawmakers to pass the bill as soon as possible.
The legislation would let cities with populations over 35,000 residents create one entertainment district, or outdoor refreshment area, where people could legally walk outside with open containers of alcohol. Cities with more than 50,000 residents could create two areas. A Senate amendment also would permit cities with populations of 35,000 or less to create one district if certain conditions are met.
In larger cities, the districts could not be larger than one-half square mile.
The proposal would also ease the state’s open-container restrictions to allow riders on certain commercial, multi-passenger bicycles to have wine and beer.