Honolulu Parks Director Michele Nekota is allowing a one-time exception for the National Football League to serve alcohol at a private, cordoned-off section of Queen’s Beach as part of the league’s Pro Bowl Beach event Friday and Saturday.
Nekota said in a release today, however, that she is rejecting a proposed rule change, sought by beach event organizers including the NFL, that would allow up to four private events to be granted licenses to serve alcohol annually at the Waikiki beach and possibly elsewhere.
Strongly opposed to the proposal were groups and individuals troubled by the idea of alcohol being served in a private, sectioned-off portion of public beach in seeming conflict with a decades-old ordinance barring any alcoholic consumption at city parks and beaches.
“DPR considered and found valid comments on both sides,” Nekota said. “After reviewing all the testimony, DPR has decided not to go forward with the rules as drafted at this time.”
However, Nekota noted that city laws allow for exceptions, like the one requested by the NFL, to be granted. “The department has granted this exception request as long as the NFL receives the proper permit from the Liquor Commission and abides by the rules and conditions of that permit,” she said.
It wasn’t clear from Nekota’s release if a liquor license or permit had been issued as of noon today. Liquor Commission Administrator Franklin Don Pacarro could not immediately be reached for comment.
A partner of the NFL told reporters earlier this month that access to the section serving alcohol would be limited to Pro Bowl sponsors.
The NFL, through the nonprofit Hawaii Beach Volleyball Association, submitted a request for a one-event liquor license for the two days at Queen’s Beach more than a week ago, Pacarro told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week. But he said he would not be able to consider such a request until the Parks Department cleared the way for alcohol to be served.
Pacarro said because a nonprofit made the request, approval could be made administratively instead of needing the OK of the commission, which meets every Thursday.
An NFL spokesman earlier told the Star-Advertiser that the league was putting on the larger public beach event at Queen’s Beach, estimated to draw 10,000 people daily, regardless of whether it received approval for the private alcohol-serving portion. The NFL has put out a brochure describing details of the event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday.