Springfield eyes expanded outdoor drinking area

Five-year-old DORA could include art museum, arts festival site and performing arts center.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

City officials are considering an expansion of the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) that would include Veterans Park Amphitheater and the Springfield Museum of Art.

Springfield Economic Development Manager Bobby Bruno brought the measure before commissioners, who will vote on it at their next regularly scheduled meeting.

Bruno said the Springfield Museum of Art approached the city and asked to be included in the DORA, which allows adults to carry alcoholic beverages in part of a city’s downtown or entertainment district.

Ohio Department of Commerce said while in a DORA, those 21 and older are able to purchase drinks in a special DORA-labeled cup from participating vendors..

Bruno said the city, in considering the art museum request, “thought it would also be an opportunity to extend the DORA to include the park amphitheater as well ... We talked to Leann Castillo, executive director of the National Trails Parks and Recreation District about it, and she thought it was an awesome idea.”

The DORA was established by the city of Springfield in 2019 and is required to be reviewed by the city every five years, Bruno said.

The change will enable people to walk and carry open containers of alcohol in the DORA plastic cups between the Kuss Auditorium to the south through downtown and into the grounds of the Springfield Museum of Art and onto the amphitheater entertainment area.

Other DORA boundaries will remain the same.

The proposed change will also extend the hours of DORA, which currently start at 11 am. Bruno said that event vendors, the farmer’s markets and other events associated with COhatch on weekends have asked they also be covered by the DORA, with permission beginning at 9 a.m.

Additional changes will also include enhanced signage so people will know whether they are within or outside of the DORA boundaries. Entry and exit signage will be added to clarify the area.

Recycling containers have also been added to the area.

Bruno said the city is open to reviewing and altering the DORA based on requests from business owners and will review requests on a case-by-case basis.

If approved by the city commission, the legislation would go into effect following state approval, probably within the next two months, according to Bruno.

Currently, Ohio has 167 DORAs. The state approved the concept in 2015 to enhance entertainment experiences and to encourage more business at participating restaurant and retail establishments in the DORA locations.

The Ohio Department of Commerce maintains a map of all current DORA locations throughout the state.

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