STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Penn State is again offering money to State College taverns that close or refuse to sell alcohol for State Patty's Day, but this year taverns will be paid between $2,500 and $7,500 — depending on their occupancy — instead of a flat $5,000 each.
The university last year paid 34 bars, restaurants and bottle shops to halt alcohol sales during the unofficial St. Patrick's Day celebration created by Penn State students.
State Patty's Day began in 2007 when St. Patrick's Day fell on spring break. The holiday no longer coincides with the break, so students typically have celebrated on the first Saturday of the break, which this year is March 1.
University and State College officials have expressed concerns over public safety and binge drinking. School and borough police said last year's crackdown cut the number of students cited by about half, and the number of students hospitalized for overdrinking from 36 in 2012 to 22 last year.
But concerns remain because the average blood-alcohol content of students admitted to the hospital last year was still roughly 0.29 percent — or about 3 ½ times what the state considers legally intoxicated.
Businesses with occupancy for up to 100 customers will receive $2,500; those with up to 200 customers will receive $5,000; those with up to 349 customers will receive $6,000; and those with room for 350 or more will receive $7,500, the Centre Daily Times (http://bit.ly/N6S4KS ) reported Wednesday.
It's unclear how many licensed establishments plan to close; participation is voluntary.
The State College Tavern Owners Association had no immediate comment on the new plan to compensate licensed liquor establishments.
The university pays the bars from parking or other revenue raised during past State Patty's Day celebrations.
"Obviously, the licensed establishments that sell and serve alcohol downtown are not the cause of the trouble State Patty's Day brings," borough manager Tom Fountaine and Damon Sims, Penn State's vice president of student affairs, said in a joint statement. "In fact, the hospitality vendors downtown have been good partners in trying to mitigate the events many harms."
Also this year, Penn State's fraternities have voted to ban parties over the State Patty's Day weekend.
Information from: Centre Daily Times, http://www.centredaily.com