Allow underage patrons in club

The Amphitheater, a nightclub in Ybor City, may soon be allowed to admit 18-20-year-olds. According to a Tampa Tribune article, in June, John Santoro, the club’s owner, requested the 21 and older restriction the city council placed on the club to be lifted. His request was denied, even though state law says that 18-20-year-olds can be admitted to clubs, but aren’t allowed to drink.

Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena said they were hoping to make clubs citywide adhere to new age limits. However, right now, the Amphitheater is the only night club in the Tampa Bay area that doesn’t allow that age group in.

Santoro says he’s lost $2 million in profits due to age restrictions imposed on his club. These restrictions are not only unfair to 18-20 -year-olds, but are also unfair to Santoro.

Councilwoman Mary Alvarez said the restrictions were put in place in an effort to curb underage drinking. However, limiting this one nightclub is wrong, and hopefully the council will give approval for the restriction to be lifted on Jan. 30.

It’s probably true that 18-20-year-olds find some way to drink after they’re let into clubs, and if that’s what the city is trying to prevent, then it should focus its efforts on making it more difficult for underage people to get alcohol once they’re admitted.

The city shouldn’t try to ban this age group from nightclubs, however. The result will be an overwhelming loss in profits for club owners.

Instead, the city can require clubs to ask for two forms of identification from club patrons, thus reducing the use of fake ids, so underage people won’t drink. Club owners can also develop a new form to identify patrons once they’re inside the club.

For example, a club who marks those over 21 with a marker will probably have a lot of underage drinking because it is easy to imitate by underage club-goers. Nightclubs should develop a unique stamp to place on the hands of those who are old enough to drink. This will help with the problem of underage drinking, but the nightclubs won’t lose any money. It’s definitely a win-win solution.