Come Super Bowl week, hundreds of high-rollers will flock to Paisley Park for an invitation-only party inside Prince’s former home and recording studio.
And — apparently for the first time since opening as a museum in October 2016 — revelers at the corporate soirees can imbibe inside its walls.
The Chanhassen City Council unanimously approved a change this week permitting licensed caterers to serve — but not sell — alcohol during Paisley Park events between Jan. 29 and Feb. 5. The move was met with resistance from some of Prince’s die-hard fans, who said that the venue should remain alcohol-free out of respect for the late rocker’s wishes.
“Keeping the interior of the property smoke free, alcohol free, even meat free the way Prince maintained it is very vital to the integrity of the property,” Esther Ojeda wrote to city leaders ahead of the vote.
Prince died in April 2016 from an accidental overdose of opioid painkillers.
Mayor Denny Laufenburger applauded Prince fans for their passion, but said the opportunity to serve liquor would help Paisley Park “raise the bar” for attracting tourists to the southwestern Twin Cities suburb.
”Though we may have personal views about Prince and his legacy and what he may or may not have wanted, we as a City Council have the responsibility of making the best decision for the city of Chanhassen,” Laufenburger said ahead of Monday’s 4-0 vote. “Approving this by no means says that we’re violating the trust Prince may have put in his organization or his studio.”
Paisley Park museum, which houses Prince’s recording studio, famous costumes and vintage artwork, plans to host at least three exclusive events leading up to the Feb. 4 football championship game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The internationally famous complex has emerged as an attractive destination for corporate sponsors seeking a splashy backdrop for late-night festivities.
One event planner who approached Paisley Park officials about renting the space said the museum wanted $400,000 for a four-hour event during Super Bowl week.
Organizers have said that the galas will be confined to the sound stage and NPG Music Club, the two adjacent areas used in the past for parties and performances by Prince and others. Karen White, Paisley’s head of sales and marketing, assured city leaders that on-site security would be adequate to handle guests, mostly bused in by corporate sponsors.
City Council capped attendance at 1,000 for each event and limited liquor service from 7 p.m. to 1 a.m. through the week.
Current zoning laws prohibit liquor sales and consumption on the premises, which throughout Prince’s life had been touted publicly as a drug-and-alcohol-free “safe haven” for its guests.
A Paisley Park source said Prince sometimes drank wine. But in recent years, no alcohol was served at Paisley Park’s public events. (However, a toast given at his private memorial service included alcoholic beverages.) Prince fans around the globe have advocated maintaining his traditional booze ban as a gesture of good faith. Purple Outcry, a group of Prince fans dedicated to the preservation of his musical legacy, contended that the potential liability of serving liquor on the property overshadowed any potential revenue for the museum or city.
Area resident Brandt Jorgensen accused the city of disrespecting neighbors for a “cash grab.”
While it remains unclear how much Paisley Park will earn for party rentals, the city’s cut is minimal: about $430 for related permits, said Community Development Director Kate Aanenson.
Council Member Jerry McDonald told Paisley Park managers that he wished to reward them for their success.
“We should allow you to stretch your legs a little bit,” McDonald said. “I’m all in favor of you doing what you need to do to build up the reputation of the Paisley Park museum.”
Staff writer Jon Bream contributed to this report. Liz Sawyer • 612-673-4648