December 2, 2016

District of Colombia: NFL Responds After District Resident Is Initially Denied Beer in Stadium

Photo Courtesy of The Washington Post

The National Football League (NFL) had to send out a memo to its stadiums clarifying that DC licenses are indeed valid identification, after an incident where concession workers had initially denied a DC residents’ driver’s license when the latter had tried to purchase beer. The vendor had asked for a passport from Colombia, not knowing, apparently, that the District of Columbia is neither the country of Colombia, nor a city in Maryland. The NFL now reminded its workers that customers with DC licenses as proof of age should be able to order a beer – just like any other American.

Below an article published by The Washington Post:

The National Football League is reminding concession workers at its stadiums that the District of Columbia is not the country of Colombia, it’s not a city in Maryland, and customers with D.C. licenses as proof of age should be able to order a beer just like any other American.

The basic civics lesson comes after reports of confused vendors demanding passports from customers hailing from the nation’s capital who flashed recently redesigned “District of Columbia” driver’s licenses.

D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell weeks ago to urge him to make sure vendors accept the new licenses after a constituent complained he was hassled while ordering a beer at New Jersey’s Metlife Stadium.

A league executive responded, telling Norton that it sent every team photos of new and old D.C. licenses to show to concession management teams.

“As you know, our stadium vendors are charged with the difficult task of combatting fraudulent forms of identification. They undergo specific training aimed at preventing the sale of alcohol to minors,” wrote Jocelyn Moore, the league’s senior vice president of public policy and government affairs. “However, a patron of legal age, with a valid photo identification, should not be denied on that basis.”

Aninda Maitra ran into this issue while ordering beers at the September Redskins-Giants game at Metlife Stadium, with a vendor who apparently thought he came from Colombia and asked for his passport. The 36-year-old tech worker eventually got his drink, but shot off emails to Norton’s office and the Giants to make sure other residents wouldn’t be denied a nice cold one.

A representative of the concessions at MetLife stadium told him that vendors have been zealously adhering to a New Jersey law that says alcohol buyers must present identification issued by a state or federal government, and D.C. is neither. A New Hampshire store cited similar reasons in denying District shoppers booze two years ago, and alcohol regulators in both states have since clarified that D.C. licenses are acceptable.

The TSA also had to train its agents to accept D.C. licenses after horror stories of residents who had their identifications questioned.

Maitra is pleased the NFL is taking a similar approach.

“It’s a good step that they are taking to get the new ID out there and get people aware that Washington and District of Columbia are the same thing, and that yes, it’s on American soil,” he said with a chuckle.