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BLOOMINGTON - It could be Miller Time in the U.S. Cellular Coliseum, but Bud fans will feel at home too.

Mike Nelson from Central Illinois Arena Management said the arena management team has been negotiating with Ra-Jac Distributing, which sells for Miller Brewing Co., and City Beverage, which handles Anheuser-Busch Cos., in an attempt to bring both brewers' products into the building.

"I expect both products - in some capacity - will be in the building," Nelson said. "To what capacity that will be, we are still working on that."

The U.S. Cellular Coliseum may have an official soft drink - Pepsi - that keeps Coca-Cola products out, but it cannot have a similar, exclusive deal with beer distributors. State liquor laws will keep the doors of the Coliseum open to local distributors.

Game Time Food and Beverage, who will oversee food and alcohol sales at the Coliseum, will go before the Bloomington Liquor Commission today. The concessions business is requesting a restaurant license that will allow the sale of all types of alcohol by the glass in the building.

City Beverage is negotiating an advertising package with the management company, said General Manager John Caruso.

"We would love to partner with Bloomington and the Coliseum," Caruso said.

That package could result in Budweiser or Bud Light being a beer sponsor for one or both teams that will call the Coliseum home, Caruso said.

"These are things we are talking about as part of our advertisement package, but nothing has been finalized," Caruso added.

But that sponsorship and advertising package cannot contain an exclusivity clause that would keep other distributors and their products out of the building.

Soft drinks are not as regulated as alcoholic beverages, giving PepsiAmericas the opportunity to use its naming rights and advertisement packages to keep industry competitor Coca-Cola out of the Coliseum and the Pepsi Ice Center.

Fran Quinn from Ra-Jac Distributing was not available for comment Monday. A representative from Ra-Jac declined to comment because negotiations with the arena management group are ongoing.

"Talks with John (Caruso) and Fran (Quinn) have been productive and these guys are excited about what the Coliseum can do as an advertising vehicle for their product," Nelson said. "We are looking at working out something that is fair to everyone."

Although the primary alcohol sales in the building would be beer and wine, Nelson said the restaurant, suites and club room will have full bar service.

If the liquor license is approved by the commission, assistant city attorney Hannah Eisner said the City Council will have to amend its liquor code to allow for the sale of alcohol in a public building.

"It would be an exception to the codes just as the city golf courses and the Center for Performing Arts are exceptions," Eisner said.

Eisner said that although the building is city-owned, Game Time would hold the liquor license.


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