State Rep. Jason Villalba is Fighting to Free Mavs Fans from Stupid Liquor Laws. One of Them, Anyway.

The Texas Legislature, when it meets in January, will be grappling with very serious issues. Criminal justice reform, immigration, tax policy, transportation -- lawmakers will be making decisions that will shape the state's future for years to come.

State Representative Jason Villalba of Dallas, a rising Republican star who has mostly avoided right-wing demagoguery and established himself as serious-minded policymaker, is poised to emerge as a leader in the Texas House. You will be glad to know, then, that in the coming session Villalba will be using his position to tackle the most important issue of all: the freedom to carry beer wherever you damn well please at the American Airlines Center.

For reasons we'd probably be able to enumerate through a close examination of the history of Texas liquor laws but which we will instead summarize by saying that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission is stupid, that's currently not allowed. If a Mavs fan buys a Bud Light Platinum on the AAC's Platinum level, he cannot leave the Platinum level without drinking or discarding said beer. If the same fan tries to leave the Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 Club with a drink that includes Jack Daniel's Old No. 7 whiskey, he will be stopped. And the now-sloshed Mavs fan can't even access the newly full-service Eighteen 76 bar without leaving the building because, like we said, the TABC is stupid.

Under Villalba's bill, said drunk fan still wouldn't be allowed to wander outside with booze in hand, but he could at least circulate freely within the AAC and not be forced to watch the game on TV while he nurses his drink at the bar.

To silence any teetotalers concerned that Villalba's bill might open the door to licentiousness or, worse, rational liquor laws, the proposed law is very narrowly tailored, applying only to a "public entertainment facility"

(2) that is an arena (A) located in a county with a population of 2.2 million or more and that is adjacent to a county with a population of more than 600,000; (B) that opened in 2001; (C) with a seating capacity of not more than 22,000 on August 1, 2014; and (D) for which alcoholic beverage permits and licenses were held on the opening day of business.

As proof that such a measure can be put in place without rending society's moral fabric, look no further than the Ballpark in Arlington. Last session a nearly identical law, albeit applying only to "a stadium located in a county with a population of more than 1.6 million, constructed not later than 1994, and with a seating capacity of not less than 45,000," was passed allowing beer-drinking baseball fans to wander freely through the stadium. Yet Arlington is still boring.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson

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