INDIANAPOLIS (WANE) – A bill is headed to the Indiana Senate that would give cities the option to serve alcohol in “outdoor refreshment areas”.

It’s a move that Michael Galbraith, the president and CEO of Fort Wayne’s Downtown Improvement District, hopes will bring even more events and activities to the city as a result.

If House Bill 1349 is approved, drinking would no longer have to be confined to the space where the beverage was purchased. Indiana cities would be able to designate outdoor refreshment areas, temporary or permanent.

State representatives passed the bill with a vote of 87-7. If it’s approved by the senate, it would then be in the hands of Fort Wayne City Council and other individual communities to decide what to do next.

“I’m super optimistic at this point,” Galbraith said in an interview with WANE 15. While similar bills have been unsuccessful in the past, he said the result is more likely to be different this time around, and one key reason is COVID-19.

“Restaurants really embraced outdoor dining during COVID, and found that people really love it,” Galbraith said. “It’s nice for people to be able to finish a cocktail or beer and walk around that area.”

The bill could generate more support for events at local spots like The Landing, Galbraith explained, where outdoor concerts and vendors could see more crowds with the freedom to move around outside a specific building’s property.

Patrons would have to wear a wristband in these designated areas, and those under the age of 21 are allowed in.

Galbraith said this allowance solves the issue that comes when families and friends get separated at festivals or concerts, if someone has a drink and has to stay in a certain spot until they’re done.

For local events like Germanfest and Three Rivers Festival, this in turn could also open the door to generating more ticket sales.

“The possibility are endless in terms of the good things this bill could do,” said Galbraith, as long as it’s being safely monitored.

If Fort Wayne City Council ends up putting the bill into effect, the community could be seeing these changes closer to the fall, Galbraith said.