The Eaglecrest Ski Area lodge, seen here in 2015, is the planned site of the Old Tower Bar, which would serve beer and wine during ski season. In a unanimous vote Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, the Alcohol Control Board rejected an alcohol license for the business. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

The Eaglecrest Ski Area lodge, seen here in 2015, is the planned site of the Old Tower Bar, which would serve beer and wine during ski season. In a unanimous vote Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, the Alcohol Control Board rejected an alcohol license for the business. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Bill could pave way for alcohol at Eaglecrest

Senate Bill 16 would change way ski areas are classified in state law

Just months after the state denying Juneau’s ski area a chance to open a bar on site, the Alaska Legislature might pave the way for the bar to become a reality.

Senate Bill 16, which is mainly focused on preserving the liquor license for the Alaska State Fair, also includes changes to state law that could allow ski areas to serve alcohol.

There has been conversation for years in Juneau about Eaglecrest Ski Area eventually opening up a bar. It looked like the bar — which was set to be called the Old Tower Bar — was going to become a reality until last October when the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board voted to reject the ski area’s application.

The reason for the rejection was because ski and snowboard areas are not included in Alaska Statute 04.11.210, which outlines a list of recreational places and events where alcohol sales are allowed. Examples of these events are baseball games and dog sled races. Senate Bill 16, proposed by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, would add ski and snowboard areas to that list.

Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan said by phone Wednesday that this bill would address the exact reason the ski area’s application was denied last year.

“It’ll give the clarity that we were looking for and should eliminate any hurdles that might be put before us,” Scanlan said, “and should pave the way for a much smoother process for us going forward.”

The bill passed the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee and now heads to the Senate Finance Committee. If the bill makes it all the way through the Legislature and into law this year, Scanlan said, Eaglecrest could have a bar open next winter.

This floor plan shows the layout of the planned Old Tower Bar at Eaglecrest Ski Area. The bar’s alcohol license was rejected by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (AMCO document)

This floor plan shows the layout of the planned Old Tower Bar at Eaglecrest Ski Area. The bar’s alcohol license was rejected by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (AMCO document)

SB 16 (co-sponsored by Sens. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer and David Wilson, R-Wasilla) slightly expands the types of places that can serve alcohol service. As Micciche said in his testimony to the Labor and Commerce Committee and as he wrote in his sponsor statement, the main aim of the bill is to make sure the Alaska State Fair can continue to serve alcohol.

[Juneau could have sixth straight year of below average snowfall]

The Alaska State Fair has been serving alcohol under the recreational site license since 1981, but with the ABC board being more stringent in its reading of state law in recent years, the fair is at risk of losing that licence, Micciche wrote in his sponsor statement. Losing the ability to serve would be “financially devastating” to the fair, Micciche wrote.

In a letter to the Labor and Commerce Committee, Scanlan took a similar angle, saying that it’s getting more difficult for a ski area to make ends meet.

“Running a small community ski area is no small endeavor and due to changing weather patterns, has become more and more financially challenging,” Scanlan wrote. “Having a robust food and beverage program that includes beer and wine sales is one of the primary revenue streams for small community ski areas.”


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Jan. 29

Bus drivers picket outside the bus barn in Wasilla, Alaska on Jan. 26, 2023. Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district have gone on strike after delivering students to classes on Tuesday,  Jan. 31, citing unfair labor practices. (Loren Holmes / Anchorage Daily News)
Mat-Su school bus drivers strike

ANCHORAGE — Bus drivers in Alaska’s second-largest school district went on strike… Continue reading

The Juneau School District’s recently announced its new directors of teaching and learning support and student services who are set to start in their positions in July. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire File)
District selects new directors for teaching and learning support and student services

The new directors will take over their roles in the district in July.

The final Boeing 747 lands at Paine Field following a test flight, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, in Everett, Wash. Boeing bids farewell to an icon on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, when it delivers the jumbo jet to cargo carrier Atlas Air. Since it debuted in 1969, the 747 has served as a cargo plane, a commercial aircraft capable of carrying nearly 500 passengers, and the Air Force One presidential aircraft, but it has been rendered obsolete by more profitable and fuel-efficient models. (Jennifer Buchanan / The Seattle Times)
Boeing bids farewell to an icon, delivers last 747 jumbo jet

SEATTLE — Boeing bid farewell to an icon on Tuesday: It’s delivering… Continue reading

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

President Joe Biden talks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023, after returning from an event in Baltimore on infrastructure. (AP Photo / Susan Walsh)
Biden to end COVID-19 emergencies on May 11

The move would formally restructure the federal coronavirus response.

Carla Casulucan, shareholder relations manager for Huna Totem Corp., gives public testimony Monday night in support of the Huna Totem development and urged the city to vote against an ordinance that would have allowed the city to spend $300,000 to help plan the location of a proposed cruise ship dock at the downtown subport. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)
City decides against spending on cruise ship dock planning

Assembly votes down ordinance after more than a dozen public comments against it.

Eaglecrest Ski Patrol received a report of an avalanche in closed terrain in the East Bowl Chutes at 10:10 a.m. Thursday. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Most Read