JEFFERSON CITY - Kansas City football fans will get to start tailgating three hours earlier under a measure passed by the Missouri House on Tuesday.
The bill, which is a reversal of the state's blue laws restricting certain activities on Sunday, will allow alcohol sales as early as 8 a.m. in and around the Kansas City sports complex.
"The NFL is an integral part of Sundays in America," said St. Louis Democrat Tom Villa. "I don't thik we should begrudge fans who attend pre-game events at the stadium."
Current law prohibits alcohol sales before 11 a.m. on Sundays throughout the state. The bill makes 9 a.m. the state-wide starting time for alcohol sales on Sundays except in the major sports cities.
The St. Louis sports complex is already able to start selling alcohol at 8 a.m. and supporters of the bill said Kansas City should have the same exception.
"It's time Kansas City has the same opportunity as its big brother in St. Louis," said Rep. Paul LeVota, D-Jackson County.
The Kansas City council and the Sports Authority testified in support of the bill when it was in earlier stages.
But, not all lawmakers from the western side of the state were in support of the bill. Kansas City Democrat Dan Bishop said he was concerned about alcohol consumption as a moral issue.
"If any economic development would arise from moving this drinking time to eight in the morning, it pales in comparison to the cost to our society," Bishop said. "We don't need government to sanction drinking at 8 a.m. at Arrowhead."
Opponents said extending the hours alcohol is available on Sunday would encourage people to consume more alcohol in general, not just at sporting events.
"Sunday should be set aside as a time for worship and families," said Rep. Doug Ervin, R-Holt, noting that the state's blue laws have been widdled down over the past several years. "We need to protect our families as much as we can."
Supporters, including restranteer Rep. Tom Dempsey, said selling alcohol earlier in the day would improve the economic condition of the state.
"We are just allowing people to have a bloody mary or a mimosa at Sunday brunch," Dempsey said.
The bill has already passed the Senate and will now go to a committee with members of both chambers to iron out the differences.