The Minaret reported last week that the City of Tampa is taking steps to outlaw drink specials in the city. While Tampa does face problems with drunk driving and underage drinking, this move is absurd. Booze is big business here in Tampa. People traveling to Florida expect several things: relaxation, sunshine, beaches, and alcohol. Ybor City lures not only underage college students, but tourists who travel to Tampa looking for an escape and a good time. If the decibel level of Ybor clubs is too high, there are plenty of other options.
My main concern is that those taking the steps to limit these specials are likely non-drinkers. Their actions to curb drink specials are about as rational as an atheist calling for all churches to be closed on Sunday. In these stressful times, a little indulgence in an adult beverage is a good way to reward oneself for a week of work. I personally hold Friday evenings’ Happy Hours on a pedestal and think about this one night of relaxation as I trudge through the rest of the week. Not only is this a good time to socialize with friends, but Happy Hours and drink specials make it affordable.
Instead of cracking down on drink specials, Tampa needs to crack down on training bartenders to not serve those who appear to be incredibly intoxicated, and to crack down on admitting underage drinking. Happy Hour drink specials need not be harmed. One of my favorite local watering holes, MacDinton’s, has recently cracked down on underage drinking. There are two entrances, each armed with a bouncer wielding fancy scanning machines that can determine an I.D.’s authenticity.
Another interesting point is that on the same day that The Minaret ran an article regarding the attempted attack on drink specials, the Alumni Office was hosting its own drink special – $1 drafts – in the Rathskellar. How unfortunate it is that alumni are able to come back to UT and relive their memories of the Rat, while any student who has arrived since 2003 no longer will be able to have these memories.
Any student who passes by the stadium will notice another contradiction. The scoreboard on our field is home to a large banner proudly promoting Budweiser. Why is it that clubs and bars are unable to promote themselves on campus while “The King of Beers” is there on our field for all to see?
While I am in favor of responsible drinking, attacking drink specials is the wrong way to go. Instead, we need to educate people about how to be responsible. Recent technology like barcodes and magnetic scanning strips have made the business of fake I.D.s an expensive one. Instead of paying lawyers to change the laws in Tampa, subsidize card-scanning devices and hire police to help bars control their clientele. We need to be proactive in protecting our beloved Happy Hours.