SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – A rise in insurance rates for liquor liability insurance is causing some problems for local businesses, like the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium.
If you’re sitting in one of the seats at the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium, you expect to be able to buy a beer, but right now, you can’t. Roger Newton, CEO of Spartanburg Regional Auditorium, said their liquor liability insurance was cancelled and he’s worried it will impact their shows and concerts.
“Needless to say, it’s been very frustrating. As of October 6, we no longer had insurance coverage,” said Newton.
Since the auditorium’s insurance was cancelled, Newton said it has had a huge problem securing the required insurance for their alcoholic beverage sales.
“I can only charge so much for beer. So, we’re in a tough position right now. We need to sell alcohol, that’s part of what people expect when they come here for shows,” he said. “We incentivize our promoters to bring us shows and that’s part of the incentive package.”
The state of South Carolina requires any businesses that serve alcohol after 5 p.m. to have liquor liability insurance of at least $1 million.
Newton said insurance companies have been losing money and are leaving the state.
“There are only three to five companies in the state that would write coverage for us,” he said.
Last year, he said they paid $1,200 for their insurance. Now, one quote they’ve gotten is $100,000. Last year, Spartanburg Regional Auditorium made over $200,000 in alcohol sales.
“I want this building to be busy, I want this building to contribute to the community, and we have been over the past year, but that slow down dramatically if we don’t get this problem solved with insurance,” said Newton.
Those who attend shows and concerts said the venue needs to get their insurance back, so they can sell drinks.
“I think it’s really going to be a detriment to people, people enjoy having an alcoholic beverage at concerts and things like that. So, I think it will probably hurt their business,” said Christy Mitchem.
“For concerts, a lot of people really like to drink, because, you know, it just boosts you up,” said Sara Clevenger.
People 7NEWS spoke with said they love going to the Auditorium.
“There are some good shows coming there, in the next months ahead, so they really need to take care of it,” stated Mitchem.
“I would still go, but I know a lot of people have different opinions,” said Clevenger.
Newton said not all of their events are alcohol-related, but without alcohol sales at some events, their revenue from food and beverages is down 75%.
“We could stand to lose all of those types of events; it could be devastating to us,” he said.
“The next Broadway show coming to Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium will be Chicago, starting November 3rd. He said no events have been canceled and they are hopeful they will get insurance in place soon.
Newton said they have until the beginning of January to secure insurance to sell alcohol.