4am World Cup TV in city bar opposed

A Dunedin bar's plans to screen Fifa World Cup matches later this year could be derailed by concerns the venue could attract early-morning drinkers ''like moths to the flame''.

Octagon bar owner Grant Ellis has applied for a special licence that would allow his premises - the ground-floor Ratbags or Innocent Bystanders above it - to remain open for matches kicking off at 4am and 7am.

The aim was to cater for up to 80 ''avid football fans'' per game throughout the tournament, which begins on June 13 and ends on July 14.

However, Mr Ellis' application has been opposed by Dunedin police and Southern District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Keith Reid.

The application will be considered at a meeting of the Dunedin district licensing committee on Tuesday.

Dr Reid, opposing the application, said it would effectively allow 24-hour trading in the Octagon, increasing the availability of alcohol for up to 25 days during the tournament.

That included 11 ''high risk'' Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, when the number of people in the Octagon - and the potential for alcohol-related harm - increased.

That raised questions about whether such a move was in keeping with the regulatory requirement to minimise alcohol-related harm, and whether watching football on television in a bar constituted an event, he said.

''This increase in availability of alcohol - particularly during the early morning hours - has the potential to fuel alcohol-related harm in a sensitive area at [a] time which is prone to such incidents.''

Dunedin City Council licensing inspector Tony Mole, in a report to Tuesday's meeting, said, if approved, the venue would be the only one allowed to sell alcohol after 4am ''when all the neighbouring bars are closed''.

''There are concerns over the premises being the only premises open after 4am and people who just seek to continue to drink being attracted like moths to the flame when they see [the venue] is open.''

The committee would also need to consider whether a special licence could be issued for a television event, he said.

Mr Ellis said Ratbags and Innocent Bystanders would be used to screen matches at various times throughout the tournament.

Whichever bar was used, it would be open to the public, but security and bar staff would remove those ''who are not obvious football fans'', he said.

- chris.morris@odt.co.nz


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