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Several Bars Accept Penn State's Cash Offer and Will Close on State Patty's Day

by on February 20, 2014 1:35 PM

As part of an effort to put an end to State Patty's Day – a Penn State student-created event that promotes binge drinking – several bars have accepted the university's new cash incentive to close during the event.

Penn State Spokesman Bill Zimmerman says Levels, Lion's Den, The Brewery, Phyrst and Local Whiskey have all accepted the compensation offer and will therefore close their doors on March 1.

For the second year in a row, Penn State is offering cash to downtown businesses in exchange for a ban on alcohol sales on State Patty's Day. University, law enforcement and borough officials say an alcohol-free zone significantly contributed to a decrease in crime during last year's event.

Last year, the university paid $5,000 to downtown bars and restaurants in exchange for an alcohol-free day. This year, the university is offering a four-tier compensation system to individual establishments based on occupancy levels:

- Businesses with occupancy of 350 or more: $7,500

- Businesses with occupancy from 250-349: $6,000

- Businesses with occupancy from 100-249: $5,000

- Businesses with occupancy levels less than 100: $2,500

Compensation is in exchange for establishments not selling alcohol during the 24-hour period of Saturday, March 1. Last year, the university used funds from revenues in campus parking operations on previous State Patty's Days to cover the incentive, Zimmerman says. This year, funds will likely again come from auxiliary enterprises such as parking.

The university sent a letter Tuesday to local businesses that said, in part, "Obviously, the licensed establishments that sell and serve alcohol downtown are not the cause of the trouble State Patty's Day brings. In fact, the hospitality vendors downtown have been good partners in trying to mitigate the event's many harms."

In 2007, Penn State students created State Patty's Day as an alternative drinking celebration after learning St. Patrick's Day fell during spring break. Since then, the event has created alcohol-related mayhem downtown.

From public drunkenness to vandalism to sexual assaults to alcohol poisoning, the event keeps local first responders busy. Police say an alcohol-free downtown significantly contributed to a roughly 37-percent decline in crime during the 2013 event.

According to the Mount Nittany Medical Center, during the 2013 State Patty's Day weekend, the emergency room saw 49 patients for alcohol-related events, the average alcohol level was 0.28, and the average age was 20. The hospital says 22 of the 49 patients were Penn State students.

Taxpayers ultimately end up paying for law enforcement services during State Patty's Day. State College and Penn State police departments place all officers on-duty throughout the weekend through overtime shifts.

Additionally, outside agencies come into the borough to assist, including neighboring police departments, Liquor Control Enforcement officers, Pennsylvania State Police, code enforcement officers and the Centre County Alcohol Task Force, which consists of police officers from throughout the county.

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Jennifer Miller is a reporter for StateCollege.com. She has worked in journalism since 2005. She's covered news at the local, state and national level with an emphasis on crime and local government.
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