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Gainesville Roller Rebels Lobby For Alcohol Sale Exemption

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The usually fun-spirited Gainesville Roller Rebel Derby girls weren’t playing games Wednesday when they came to Gainesville’s city hall to support broadening the sale and consumption of alcohol citywide.

Gainesville’s Safety Committee has gotten requests from businesses in the city that want to sell alcohol at their events but can’t because of a current city ordinance.

The Roller Rebels are hoping to join those requests so they can sell beer at their games.

“Even though the MLK is not a center that is under consideration for the city ordinance change,” Roller Rebel Adrienne Fagan said, “we’re hoping to show up with our team members and our supporters to really push the issue.”

Beer can be publicly sold only in a few places in the city, most notably at UF’s football games.

But the increasing demand to expand the number of places is what prompted this week’s meeting.

While it’s a change some businesses in the area want to see, city officials worry about safety repercussions.

City officials worry more alcohol will mean more crime and the need for more law enforcement and allowing alcohol at the MLK Center has them worried for a different reason.

“There a few extenuating circumstances with the MLK (Center), one of them being many youth activities are held there and we don’t usually condone alcohol sales in the same premises with youth and youth activity,” city commissioner Yvonne Hinson-Rawls said.

The non-profit Roller Rebels rely on alcohol sales for team expenses. They say it makes up to one-third of their revenue per game — about $1,000.

“There are 1,600 in the world, and we’re ranked 51,” Fagan said, “so in order for us to maintain that and put Gainesville on the map in the roller derby we need to get out into the world. We need to go to Chicago, we need to go to Los Angeles, we need to go to Seattle.”

Wednesday’s meeting has been part of a year-long consideration of changing the ordinance.

The draft ordinance was finished in August.

Before changes to the ordinance become permanent, the city commission will have to approve it.

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