Last call at Minute Maid Park?

June 11, 2009 9:58:49 PM PDT
Could it be last call at Minute Maid Park? [SPORTS BLOG: Read the latest from the Eyewitness Sports team]

State liquor regulators are investigating Aramark, the company that provides food and alcohol for the Astros' stadium, after one of their employees is suspected of drinking and driving and killing a man last year.

For some people, having a beer at the ballgame is as much a tradition as peanuts and cracker jack, but now the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission may be going after at least one of the liquor licenses at Minute Maid Park.

The company under investigation, Aramark, has exclusive rights to sell alcohol here at the ballpark. While it's certainly too early to tell if any of that will change as part of this investigation, one local family is counting on swift action.

The mere mention of stopping liquor sales at Minute Maid Park may draw mixed reactions.

"Attendance will drop, but if they don't want to sell alcohol it's fine," said fan Jason Rivas.

However, for the Hall family, they see that possibility as a bit of justice.

"I still look for him coming through the door," said Bertha Hall, the victim's mother.

The victim's father, David Hall, Sr. said, "He had a great future in front of him, and they took it away from him."

It was August of last year, when TX-DOT worker David Hall was struck and killed while working along I-45. The driver of the car, Aramark employee Ray Wilson, was allegedly drunk at the time after reportedly leaving an Astros game.

Nearly ten months after that accident, the TABC confirms it is looking at taking administrative action against Aramark, the company that handles liquor sales for Minute Maid Park.

"If a normal person, especially a normal person in that business, should have known if this person was drunk, then they have a problem," said Michael Barnett.

The TABC said in cases like this, penalties could range from no action, to cancellation of liquor permits. The company could also face hefty fines. If wrong-doing is found, the person who sold the liquor could also face criminal charges.

In a statement from Aramark, the company writes, "We take responsible service of alcoholic beverages very seriously and have industry-leading standards in place at each venue where we provide food and beverage services. We do not comment on pending matters."

For the Hall family, if action is taken that would be a bit of relief.

"It can never mend my husband's death. If it can help one person not to be killed by a drunk driver, that's all I ask," said Margaret Hall, David's wife.

It's unclear just how long this investigation will take. In the meantime, Hall's widow told us she is exploring civil action against the driver who allegedly hit her husband as well as the vendor.

According to the TABC, Aramark has only had four violations in the past nine years.

In June 2000, there were two violations. They received a written warning for one, and the company agreed to retrain their employee for the other.

Four years later, they were cited for delivering alcohol to a minor, and this past February they received a written warning for an unspecified violation.

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