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USC wins its Colonial Life Arena liquor license battle with city councilman

John A. Carlos II (copy)

Fans gather for the first round of the 2019 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at  Colonial Life Arena in Columbia on March 22, 2019. File/John A. Carlos II/ Special to The Post and Courier

COLUMBIA — The liquor license has been renewed for Colonial Life Arena despite an objection being filed by a Columbia city council member.

Aramark, the vendor for the University of South Carolina, has received a renewal of the license through Aug. 31, 2022, according to the S.C. Department of Revenue, which oversees liquor licensing.

The university is pleased to be able to continue to offer drinks to adult fans at Colonial Life, spokesman Jeff Stensland said. USC is committed to safe alcohol sales in its venues, he said.

The license for the arena had been protested last year by Daniel Rickenmann, the council member and now a mayoral candidate.

Rickenmann argued the university is not being held to the same standard on alcohol sales that small businesses in Columbia have to meet. That includes taking responsibility for who gets drinks after they are sold by a vendor in the arena, he said.

“They were shirking their responsibility,” Rickenmann said March 17.

The university has filed for a new liquor license at Williams-Brice Stadium in the wake of the Southeastern Conference approving rules for alcohol sales at venues, Stensland confirmed. 

That new license would replace previous licenses for luxury suite customers and for special events that had been issued for the football stadium. The new license has not been granted yet. 

The license dispute comes as USC has intervened against the license renewals for four night clubs in the Five Points district, even as neighborhood protests have forced 11 bars to go to court for their licenses.

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