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)

Eaglecrest moves one step closer to serving alcohol

Senate Bill 16 passes Senate, moves to House

Eaglecrest Ski Area is one step closer to being able to serve alcohol.

On Monday, the Alaska Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 16, which is aimed at preserving the liquor license at the Alaska State Fair but also changes state law to allow ski areas to serve alcohol. 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.

SB 16, proposed by Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, now heads to the House of Representatives. If it makes it through the House without any changes, it will then head to Gov. Mike Dunleavy for final approval. Eaglecrest General Manager Dave Scanlan said that if the bill passes, Eaglecrest could be ready to serve alcohol next winter.

Those at Eaglecrest have been looking to add a bar for years. It looked like the bar — which was set to be called the Old Tower Bar — was finally going to become a reality until October 2018 when the state Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) Board voted to reject the ski area’s application on account of ski areas not being included in AS 04.11.210.

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Scanlan said that if the bill passes, Eaglecrest can once again go through that process with the ABC Board this year and will have a much better chance to get its alcohol license approved.

“This new language in SB 16, it makes the pathway very clear for us as an allowed use under that recreational use license,” Scanlan said.

Changing weather patterns have made it difficult for Eaglecrest in recent years, as the ski area has had to make do with less snow or even create its own snow to provide a ski-friendly environment on the mountain. Having a food and beverage program, Scanlan has said in the past, can help boost the ski area’s revenue.

“It just gives another strength of business for food and beverage sales, to build community and to have different fun events for us smaller mountains,” Scanlan said Tuesday. “We’re just really excited, and like I said, even more encouraged to see that it had full support of the (Senate) as it made it through the final votes.”

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.

In a release Monday, Micciche said the bill’s main aim was to preserve the state fair’s alcohol license but it’s meant to promote small business as well.

“This bill is part of a larger effort to modernize and reform our state’s alcohol laws,” Micciche said in a release, “but this specific issue required immediate action to assist small, responsibly-operated businesses in their continued operation.”

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

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