By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — As the Winnipesaukee Muskrats ready for their seventh season in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, general manager Kristian Svindland this week asked the Parks and Recreation Commission to permit the sale of beer and wine at home games played at Robbie Mills Field.
In 2012, the commission approved a similar request from Jonathan and Noah Crane, the original owners of the team, which was contingent upon construction of a deck atop the left field wall to house the concession. However, when the project was not completed, the commission denied the Cranes' request to operate the concession at another location.
With the deck still in limbo, Svindland proposed placing the concession within a fenced area, approximately 20 feet by 80 feet, behind the grandstand on the third-base line. Security personnel would restrict admission to those 21 or older. "It would be very controlled," he told the commission. The area would include a tent, about 20 feet by 20 feet, leaving some 1,000 square feet for patrons.
Dave Henrick, who owns and operates Lakeside Famous Roast Beef and the 405 Pub & Grill, would operate the concession and secure the approval of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. He said that allowing 8 square feet per person, the area would have capacity for about 100 and require a staff of at least four, one for security, another to cook and two to serve.
Svindland suggested opening the concession at 5 p.m., an hour before the first pitch, and stopping serving in the middle of the eighth inning or at 8:30 p.m., whichever comes first. Patrons, he said, would be limited to not more than four drinks during any game. At the same time, he said the team would also like the opportunity to host a reception for a corporate sponsor or other group prior to 5 p.m., but stressed that such events would not preempt public access to the concession.
Mitch Hamel, chairman of the commission, asked if the proposal represents a temporary arrangement pending completion of the deck. Svindland said that constructing the deck is a goal of the new owners of the team.
"It's a great vantage point to watch a game," he said, "and would be a real asset to the field." He added that beer and wine sales, by increasing attendance at the gate and revenue from the concessions, would contribute toward the cost of of completing the deck. In the meantime, he said that the proposed location is the best place for the beer and wine concession.
Hamel said that the commission will consider the proposal at its next regularly scheduled meeting in March with an eye to making a decision in May. Apart from the approval of the commission the proposal must also be approved by the Licensing Board and the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.