Push to Reinstate College Nights on Chippewa

October 9, 2012 Updated Oct 9, 2012 at 10:27 PM EDT

By Rachel Elzufon

October 9, 2012 Updated Oct 9, 2012 at 10:27 PM EDT

Buffalo, NY (WKBW) - The battle over bars and who can patronize them came to the steps of Buffalo City Hall.

A law that allowed adults between the ages of 18 and 20 to attend bars one night a week along the Chippewa Strip recently expired. Now there's a push to get that law reinstated.

Bar owners tell Eyewitness News they are losing too much money without this night.

They say there is a trickle down effect -- without 18-to-20 year-olds, their friends who can legally drink do not come.

During the last few months, the Common Council designated Thursdays as College Night on Chippewa ... a night geared towards young people who want to go downtown.

College students say they pump more money into the area.

Colin Miller, a University at Buffalo student, says "Occasionally we work with DJ's and whatever. We try to promote the city. We try to do tours, get kids to come down."

He adds that Canada is nearby, and students who cannot get into bars in Buffalo can spend their money across the border.

Now bar owners are asking -- why is Chippewa being targeted?

Peter Altholz says when he recently bought a bar on Chippewa, we were assuming we can reach out to the local colleges and host events at our venue."

No law stops 18-to-20 year-olds from going to a bar on Elmwood or near University at Buffalo South Campus.

Common council members tell Eyewitness News bars in those areas are more likely to only allow people ages 21 and up.

Common Council Majority Leader Demone Smith explains "If they're in the bar at midnight and they somehow find a way to get drunk and they spill into the street and cause disturbances in a place that's more adult oriented."

Council members and bar owners debated about the future of College Nights outside of the common council chambers.

Smith also questioned why is there such a financial hit if kids are staying sober? He says "Are you telling me 18-year-olds that are only drinking pop at your establishment, really contribute that much money that you're losing?"

However, both sides want to find a solution -- keeping the streets safe and money coming into downtown.

Common Council President Rich Fontana says "We're going to look at the data to see what shows for Thursday night. To be honest, if it's a problem, I'd have no problem with a Thursday exemption."

Bar owners and students did show up to the common council meeting. However, because no paperwork was ever filed, it never ended up on the agenda.

In addition, council members say no bar owner ever filed an extension to continue College Nights, which was temporary.

Council members say they will probably address the issue in the next month or two.