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Applications to expand where businesses can sell booze ticking up ahead of Avalanche, Nuggets playoff push

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Posted at 8:58 PM, Mar 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-10 22:58:30-05

DENVER — The Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup run brought in millions of dollars for businesses in the Denver area in 2022, during a munch needed bounce-back for establishments that struggled through the pandemic.

With NHL and NBA playoffs starting in April, those same businesses are preparing for more crowds and revenue. The Denver Nuggets are serious contenders this year to win the NBA championship, while the reigning Stanley Cup champs are hoping for a repeat.

The Squeeze, a dive bar in northwest Denver, is one such business looking to capitalize.

"It's a great opportunity for me," owner Missy Mitchell told Denver7. "We're just a little neighborhood bar. Obviously, we're tiny, so this stuff makes a big difference for us."

Mitchell has a large tent set up in front of the bar that stretches into the parking lot, where she can fit larger crowds to watch games.

"Obviously we bring in more booze ... we set up this whole area. It's just packed," Mitchell said.

According to the Denver Department of License and Excise, there are more than 110 businesses that have submitted an application to expand where they can serve alcohol to host events, such as watch parties, for the playoffs. That's nearly double the amount of applications the licensing department saw last year between April and June, according to the Chuck Hickey, the department's spokesman.

"It's an opportunity for businesses, bars and restaurants ... with the Nuggets and the Avalanche going into the playoffs next month, to expand their service areas to serve alcohol," Hickey said. "If they want to be ready for when the playoffs start in mid-April, they need to know about the licensing rules. There's a 30 day period for us to approve the modification of premises."

Last year, several businesses pleaded with the department to expedite that process as crowds started to significantly grow for each round until the Avs eventually reached the Stanley Cup Finals. The department cut through the red tape and processed the applications within a few days.

"There is no guarantee we're going to do that this year at this time, and that's why we sent out the notification and communication to our bars and restaurants throughout the city to get going on this now so that they are ready when the playoffs start and they're not caught flat footed," Hickey said.

In 2022, Tivoli Brewing Company took advantage of the expansion and hosted thelargest Avalanche watch partieson the Auraria Campus, across the street from Ball Arena. Tens of thousands of fans attended for the Stanley Cup finals.

Denver7 asked Tivoli's CEO Ari Opsahl if fans can expect similar events this year.

"For this year, you know, obviously we got to see where the teams go. We're hoping for the best," Opsahl said.

The better the teams perform and the further they get into the playoffs, the better chance there is for Tivoli to host a massive watch party.

"Anytime that you can bring fans together for a great time, whether we're supporting the Nuggets, the Avs or any of our Colorado teams, is an opportunity for businesses like Tivoli Brewing Company to do really well, and honestly all the businesses downtown thrive from those events," Opsahl said.

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