Football boost for town's bars after vote to scrap Prohibition-style booze ban

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Two taverns in a small Northern Minnesota town have reason to cheer after local residents voted to scrap a Prohibition-style Sunday booze ban that hits them hard during football season.

For six decades, licensed bars in Buhl have been barred from selling alcohol on Sundays, which has led to NFL fans driving along highway 169 to nearby Chisholm or Hibbing to watch games, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

But now, the town's two bars, The Hideaway and Billy's Bar, will consider opening up on Sundays after 69 percent of the town voted in a referendum on Tuesday to repeal the ban believed to date back to the 1950s, and allow on-sale liquor sales on the Sabbath.

Mark Frahm, co-owner of Billy's Bar, told the Tribune: "I don't think I'll be open every Sunday, but it's nice to have the option for football games, the Superbowl and other special events."

Buhl was among a number of places in Minnesota that repealed Sunday liquor laws in this week's elections, with the West Central Tribune reporting that no fewer than six towns in West Central Minnesota scrapping similar rules.

Bars and restaurants in Maynard, Regal, Atwater, Grove City, Watson and Canby will be able to apply for licenses from their local city council to serve alcohol from 10 a.m. on Sundays as a result, the newspaper notes.

The NFL plays a major role in the economic success of sports bars across the country, with Inc. reporting that many small bar businesses would have gone under had the 2011 NFL lockout gone ahead.

Nowhere is the NFL more important than in franchise cities, with a report by USA Today finding that teams like the Minnesota Vikings could be indirectly responsible for more than 110,000 jobs in the Twin Cities.

Sports bar employees are among the main beneficiaries, USA Today notes, as fans and families descend on their local watering holes for food and beer every Sunday lunchtime.

Provided the removal of the booze ban is approved by Buhl's city council at its next meeting, the town's taverns should finally be able to benefit from the football windfall that boosts many other businesses.

Off-site liquor sale ban still in place

While laws for licensed bars have been loosened in Buhl, the town and the rest of the state are still unable to buy alcohol from liquor stores on Sundays.

Attempts to repeal the law banning liquor stores from opening on Sundays were rejected by the Minnesota Senate in May by a vote of 42 to 22, the Pioneer Press reports.

But there was better news for the state's burgeoning craft brewing market, as a law allowing craft beer tap rooms on Sundays was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton, as reported by MPR.

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