26 Oct 2017

Bars cross fingers over Sheeran liquor licence

1:19 pm on 26 October 2017

Dunedin bar owners are anxiously awaiting a decision on whether they will be able to cater for the more than 110,000 revellers expected at Ed Sheeran's three concerts in the city over Easter weekend.

British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran performs during a concert at the Ziggo Dome in Amsterdam in early April.

Ed Sheeran Photo: AFP

Last month, one Octagon bar owner applied for a special licence to serve alcohol on Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

If granted, the application will be unprecedented under the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, in allowing businesses to serve alcohol on restricted trading days for an event held at another venue.

Sheeran will play three concerts at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Thursday 29 March, Saturday 31 March, and Sunday 1 April.

The concerts are expected to wind up about 11pm, giving bars little time to serve visitors going to Thursday and Saturday's shows before restrictions come into place at midnight.

The legislation states alcohol can only be served on Good Friday and Easter Sunday if accompanied by a meal.

The application, which was heard behind closed doors and non-notified, was adjourned but it will act as a test case for other bars in the city.

Dunedin District Licensing Committee secretary Kevin Mechen said the reporting agencies, including police, were opposed to the licence on statutory grounds.

The application had been lodged to test the waters of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act and whether an allowance to open on the Easter holidays could be made, he said.

Hospitality Association Otago branch president Mark Scully said he hoped authorities would make a special allowance for bars, considering the scale of Sheeran's visit to the city.

"Hopefully common sense will prevail."

"It would be embarrassing for the city for the concert to finish at 10, 11 o'clock and have our bars close by 12 and then on the way to the other concert to stop and have a drink.

"It's a big challenge for the city and we are working with the agencies to come up with a good solution."

Visitors who had spent a lot of money to come to Dunedin for the concert would expect to be able to enjoy themselves in the city afterwards, he said.

The application outcome would not only affect the economics of central Dunedin's businesses, but the reputation of the city, Mr Scully said.