Iowa City's Union Bar declared 'entertainment venue,' will open for patrons 19 and up

Bar must host 150 'show' evenings per year to maintain designation

Mark Carlson
Published: March 5 2014 | 1:42 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 9:12 am in

19-year-old patrons will be able to stay at the Union Bar after 10 p.m. on weekend nights, after the city of Iowa City declared them an “entertainment venue” earlier this week.

City clerk Marian Karr confirmed the designation had been approved by city staff on Tuesday. The Union Bar defines itself as “The #1 nightlife destination at the #1 party school,” on its Twitter profile. Their website says: “The biggest bar in the Big Ten Conference is here in Iowa City.”

According to KCRG/Gazette archives, an “entertainment venue” designation is for bars that meet certain requirements that show their main purpose is to provide live entertainment like concerts, comedy acts, or poetry or prose readings.

George Wittgraf, owner of the Union Bar, helped lead a failed attempt to repeal the city’s 21-only ordinance in the fall. The ordinance prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from being in a downtown bar after 10 o’clock, with some exceptions.

The exception for the Union only applies to “show” evenings.

Iowa City police Sgt. Vicki Lalla said the bar will required to host a minimum of 150 “show” evenings over the course of the year to maintain the distinction.

On its Twitter page Tuesday the bar declared: “We are very excited to announce that starting this Friday The Union will be 19+ ALL NIGHT every Friday and Saturday. #gamechanger.”

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