Why St. Louis County changed its bar-opening rules for the Vikings' 8:30 a.m. kickoff

Bars in the area can't open before 10 a.m. But the Vikings play at 8:30 a.m. ...

Football teams only play once a week, so when game time comes around you've gotta be ready. 

That's especially true at a rural bar, where gathering for the contest might be the only time of the week the far-flung locals get together. 

But what happens when the game starts at, say, 8:30 a.m. rather than noon? And the bar isn't allowed to open that early?

It took a special act from their local government this week, but the folks at The Shack – a roadhouse on the northern edge of the Iron Range – now consider themselves ready to watch the Vikings paste the Cleveland Browns when they play in London, England, in a couple weeks. 

That's because they'll get to start serving well before kickoff now.

What was the problem?

Because of the time difference, the kickoff for that London game will be at 8:30 a.m. Minnesota time.

The Shack is not in any specific town, so it's regulated by St. Louis County, which doesn't let bars open before 10 a.m. 

Kristy May, who works at The Shack, told GoMN the collision of timing between the 8:30 game and the don't-open-before-10 mandate got the attention of the bar – and the dozens of patrons who regularly gather there for Vikings games. 

"We're more of a small community up here and we're one of the only bars around," May said. "It was kind of a big concern because everybody's not so much wanting to sit at home at 8:30 in the morning."

Who says government's not responsive?

At the request of The Shack, St. Louis County's Board of Commissioners called an audible that will let the tradition of gathering for the game carry on, even super early in the morning.

Commissioners this week unanimously approved a one-time waiver of the 10 a.m. rule, noting that The Shack and other bars licensed by the county "would otherwise be deprived of their customers’ anticipated business during the broadcasted Minnesota Vikings game." 

Meaning The Shack will be open for business at 8 a.m., well before kickoff.

What about other places?

The only reason a waiver was needed in St. Louis County is because they have a bar-opening rule that's stricter than state law. 

Minnesota's liquor law allows bars to open as early as 8 a.m. So special permission is only needed in places where a local government has set a later time. 

If you want to head to The Shack on the morning of October 29, you'll find it on Highway 169 between Virginia and Embarrass.

Kristy May said fans wearing Vikings gear will get a dollar off the price of their drinks during the game.

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