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A recent bill allowing larger populated cities and townships to create “outdoor refreshment areas”, which are exempt from Ohio’s prohibitions on the possession of an open-container of alcohol outside of designated permit premises, has unanimously passed the Ohio Senate.

This new law is expected to expand economic development in Ohio’s major metropolitan areas, and to promote major convention events being hosted in Ohio. The law contemplates not only the popular Arena District in Columbus, but also the Banks in Cincinnati and the Flats in Cleveland.

The bill was specifically passed due to Cincinnati’s hosting of the 2015 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. However, if the proposed legislation passes the House before session ends this year, the new law will allow the creation of an “outdoor refreshment area” in which people may consume alcohol and possess an open container in an outside designated area in time for the NHL All-Star Game in Columbus on Jan. 24-25.

This is a great victory for Ohio as convention-planning committees across the country consider where to host large scale events.

Under the proposed law, cities and townships with at least 35,000 people may create a one half-mile-square “outdoor refreshment areas” where people may purchase alcohol inside the area and consume it publicly in an open container, which has traditionally been against Ohio’s open-container law.

The bill also creates a commission to examine the viability of creating refreshment areas in smaller municipalities, which would be a victory for local control and the promotion of alcohol sales for Ohio’s smaller liquor permit holders, also.

By Attorney Lisa A. Wafer, an Associate with The Law Offices of Saia & Piatt, Inc.