Texas senator appeals alcohol ban

AUSTIN, Texas -- A ban on alcohol sales at a high profile boxing match in El Paso is an insult to the city and should be overturned, a Texas state senator said Tuesday.

Sen. Jose Rodriguez sent a letter to University of Texas System regents, urging them to repeal the ban imposed by Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa as a condition of the June 16 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.-Andy Lee fight at the University of Texas-El Paso's Sun Bowl.

Cigarroa initially wouldn't permit the fight at the Sun Bowl after a federal law enforcement report warned that members of warring Mexican drug cartels may attend. El Paso officials complained, and after meeting with local and federal law enforcement, Cigarroa agreed Friday to allow the school to host the fight.

El Paso officials welcomed the reversal but were frustrated by the alcohol ban at an event expected to draw more than 40,000 people.

The ban "perpetuates the idea that our community is unsafe or that El Pasoans and other attendees cannot be trusted if alcohol is available," Rodriguez, who is from El Paso, wrote in the letter to the regents. The regents meet in Austin on Wednesday and Thursday.

Cigarroa spokesman Anthony de Bruyn said the chancellor would have no comment Tuesday.

The ban suggests local officials can't handle security at large events and prevents the university from making money from the fight, Rodriguez said. He predicted it likely would drive down ticket sales and promote offsite drinking that would be difficult to regulate.

Rodriguez said he was unaware of similar alcohol restrictions placed by Cigarroa or the regents on other events hosted at university facilities. Both Texas-El Paso and the University of Texas in Austin hosted televised boxing matches in recent weeks.

Cigarroa also said state, local and federal law enforcement must promise they can handle any security measures and the contract with the promoter and a security plan must be approved in advance by system officials.