Bar restrictions create mixed opinions on safety during Unofficial


Brad Meyer

By Alissa Groeninger

While bar owners said the bars were tame on Unofficial, people have mixed feelings about whether the rest of campus was under control.

“Unofficial is always a distraction,” said University spokeswoman Robin Kaler in an e-mail. “This year it proved to be dangerous as well.”

Flat Top Grill opened for breakfast on Friday, which it does not normally do, said general manager Derek Roetzer. He said the restaurant was not busier than a normal Friday but there were more students, as opposed to Champaign residents.

“With Unofficial going on, no one really wanted to go near this place, except students,” Roetzer said.

Kams owner Eric Meyer said the bars were relatively calm and had few if any problems. He said Firehaus, Joe’s Brewery and Kams were crowded because of their outdoor beer gardens but other bars were not at capacity. Meyer said there were less people at the bars than there were last year.

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“People were well behaved,” Meyer said.

Scott Cochrane, who owns 10 Champaign-Urbana bars, said Firehaus was more crowded than last year but Station and Fubar were not as crowded as in 2008. Station was only at capacity during a party early in the day.

“We have an older crowd there (at Firehaus) so that lends itself to the whole 21 thing,” Cochrane said. “Everybody seemed to be having a good time but everything seemed to be under control.”

Meyer said the city’s plan caused more students to buy alcohol from stores and throw apartment parties. He said he heard that a record number of kegs were sold during the weekend. Cochrane said he also heard a record amount of alcohol was sold.

“It basically sent an extraordinary number of people underground,” Meyer said.

Meyer and Cochrane said apartment parties are more dangerous for students.

“Whenever they’re in the liquor establishments they’re in a safe environment,” Meyer said.

A man fell three stories from an apartment building while trying to climb from the third story balcony to the fourth story balcony. Lt. Brad Yohnka with the Champaign Police Department said an investigation is underway and the man is in the hospital.

“It just reaffirms my opinion that people are safer in the bars than they are at apartment parties,” Cochrane said. “I think that speaks for itself in volumes.”

While some people felt that Friday’s festivities got out of hand, Michael La Due, Champaign City Council member, said the crowd on Green Street was tame compared to past years. He said the accident is not something you can attribute to Unofficial because it could happen any weekend.

“The extra police presence obviously has a powerful impact,” La Due said.

Police issues 267 citations Friday, primarily for minors in possession and public possession.

Amanda Pardys, sophomore in Education, said she thought the police were able to keep everything under control, which made the event enjoyable.

“It was a lot of fun,” Pardys said. “It was kind of cool seeing people on Green Street.”

Madeline Kelsey, freshman in LAS, disagreed and thought the police were not able to control everything. She said the event was under control during the day but Green Street got wild at night. Kelsey said she never felt unsafe.

“It was just a lot of people,” she said. “There wasn’t order.”

Registered Student Organization Students for Environmental Concerns was among groups that helped clean Green Street Saturday morning. The volunteers collected empty alcohol containers and trash.