Drinking Games 

10-10 ordinance is Boise State University football fans' right of passage

Scores of citizens who squeezed into the chambers of the Boise City Council July 30 would have to wait. Most came to push back against a controversial and much-publicized proposal to put panhandlers on a tighter leash (BW, Citydesk, "Boise Council Mulls Anti-Panhandling Ordinances," July 31, 2013).

Some clucked and impatiently wriggled in their seats as the Council pushed another issue--the so-called "10-10" program, which would rewrite the city's open container law--to the front burner.

The Council ultimately shelved the anti-panhandling proposal, but waved the 10-10 ordinance through, moving toward its final reading and approval Aug. 13. The plan establishes an alcohol-friendly area in Julia Davis Park between Zoo Boise and Broadway Avenue on Bronco football game days from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.

For Bronco fans, the so-called "10-10" pilot program cracks open a new space for drinking. For Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson, it's a green light to redirect game-day partying away from residential areas, freeing the police to "focus on enforcement of more pressing issues."

"We want to move tailgaters to campus and the park, and out of our neighborhoods," Masterson said.

Though the Civil Sidewalk Ordinance won more headlines, the 10-10 Ordinance may be one of the most significant measures passed by the City Council this year, affecting tens of thousands of Boise State students, staff, fans, neighbors and owners of nearby businesses.

The ordinance, crafted by the Boise Police Department, stemmed from a rash of misunderstandings resulting in open container ordinance violations.

"People who otherwise are law-abiding citizens were confused on where they could legally have alcohol," said BPD spokeswoman Lynn Hightower.

As the Bronco football team's popularity has grown, so has the number of attendees and partiers, and the revelry has spilled outside Boise State's alcohol safe harbor. Between 10 and 20 police officers patrol the university area on game days; yearly they hand out between 250 and 300 open container citations.

"People were pushed off [Boise State's designated drinking area]. It's just not big enough," said Hightower.

Simultaneously, BPD indicated it needed to focus its priorities on rowdy behavior, driving under the influence and littering, rather than ticketing fans for alcohol consumption.

"Things like that have been the quality-of-life issues for people who also live there," Hightower said.

In response, Masterson told city officials that on home game days in designated areas around the university, his officers will no longer be "the cup police or smell park visitors' cups," hence the 10-10 program, which takes effect at Boise State's home opener, Saturday, Sept. 7, when the Broncos face off against the University of Tennessee-Martin.

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While police hope to direct their attention to more pressing issues to the community, businesses that rely on the influx of Bronco fans anticipate an additional economic benefit.

For area businesses selling beer, wine and spirits, Bronco game days are some of the busiest of the year. According to a manager at Hayden Beverage Company, which sources alcoholic beverages to purveyors like Albertsons, game days drive 20 percent to 30 percent increases in sales at locations near Boise State.

Another Treasure Valley beverage distributor, Stein Distributing Co., sees a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in game-day sales compared to overall revenues.

"We get a blip [of increased sales]," said Stein President and General Manager John Grizzaffi.

He was optimistic about how the 10-10 program might affect Stein's sales.

"It would probably increase beer sales even more," he said.

For Hayden and Stein, Bronco game days won't make or break their businesses, but for many of the bars near Boise State, the difference between a Bronco game day and an average Saturday is dramatic.

There are two kinds of regular customers at End Zone, according to bartender James Meyer: regulars and game-day regulars. The former, Meyer says, account for the majority of End Zone's business, but the latter triple the bar's business on nights following a Bronco game, then they disappear.

"I might not see them for the rest of the year," he said.

Bartender Griffy Bibean of Suds Tavern is more explicit in his estimation of what game days mean for his bar.

"It keeps us alive for the rest of the year," he said.

Reports from area businesses describe an alcohol consumer base that's a mix of students, alumni and fans; but while neighboring businesses anticipate boosts in game-day alcohol sales under the 10-10 pilot, Boise State Associate Dean of Students Blaine Eckles presides over a student body with a surprising relationship to alcohol.

According to a 2011 Boise State study, 25 percent of respondents reported having never had an alcoholic beverage, but perceived non-use of alcohol was just 3 percent. While perceived daily alcohol consumption was as high as 15.2 percent, the reality is that 1.2 percent reported drinking daily.

"A lot of people's perceptions about college drinking are not the case," Eckles said.

As the university takes on more traditional students, ages 18-22 seeking bachelor's degrees, it's setting the stage for their coming-of-age activities, including alcohol consumption.

Eckles is proceeding with caution. The effect of an expansion of Boise State's tailgating space on students is an unknown, but Eckles refrained from opining on whether the 10-10 pilot would aid or detract from Boise State's atmosphere.

"Until we go through the experience, I can't speculate [as to how the program will affect Boise State]. At the end of the day, we're looking for people to engage in responsible behavior. I'm an optimist," he said.

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