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 that would allow Eaglecrest to serve alcohol passes Legislature

Bill just one step away from becoming a law

Juneau’s ski area is just a signature away from having an open path to serve alcohol.

The Alaska Legislature passed Senate Bill 16 on Wednesday, which paves the way for ski areas and other recreational sites around the state to serve alcohol. The measure, which passed the Senate unanimously, passed by a unanimous vote in the House. It now goes to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for final approval.

The bill would add ski and snowboard areas to Alaska Statute 04.11.210, which outlines a list of recreational places and events where alcohol sales are allowed. Events currently on that list include baseball games and dog sled races.

The main intent of this bill, actually, is to preserve the Alaska State Fair’s alcohol license. Its sponsor is Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna. 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.

Eaglecrest took center stage for a while on the House floor Wednesday, as Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, proposed an amendment that would specifically list Eaglecrest in the bill as being able to apply for a license.

Hannan asserted that the Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board basically pulled the rug out from under Eaglecrest last October when it voted to reject Eaglecrest’s application because of ski areas not being included in AS 04.11.210. Prior to that, it appeared that the bar — which was set to be called the Old Tower Bar — was finally going to become a reality.

This amendment, she said, would clear up the law so that the ABC Board couldn’t interpret the law more broadly that the statute allows. Others, including Rep. Adam Wool, D-Fairbanks, weren’t so sure this bill would be a permanent fix.

Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan has told the Empire this session that if the bill passes, Eaglecrest could be ready to serve alcohol 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)

Unpredictable weather patterns have made it difficult for Eaglecrest in recent years, as the ski area has had to operate with less snow or even create its own snow to have enough for people to ski and snowboard on. Having a food and beverage program, Scanlan has said in the past, can help the ski area’s finances.


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


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