- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) - It didn’t take long for a couple of Ohio cities to jump on the idea of creating outdoor refreshment areas where revelers can legally carry open containers of alcohol.

The city council in Toledo approved the idea this past week over the objections of some neighbors of the entertainment district near downtown.

Last month, council members in the southwest Ohio city of Middletown authorized an outdoor drinking district in a half-mile space downtown.

Ohio this past spring enacted a new law that allows municipalities to establish outdoor refreshment areas that are exempt from the state’s prohibition against consuming alcohol in public places. The districts allow people to buy drinks in bars and restaurants and stroll outside with them to enjoy entertainment and shopping or just relax in the open air.

The idea is to allow for entertainment districts similar to Bourbon Street in New Orleans and Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee. But people aren’t allowed to bring in their own drinks.

Outdoor drinking in Toledo’s first refreshment district will be limited to certain hours, with the hours extended on weekends and during holidays and special events.

The area has five taverns and revelers will be able to carry around their drinks in special cups sold for $1 each at those establishments.

The plan is begin operating the area next spring.

Two other outdoor refreshment areas are being considered in the city.

Some neighbors of the first entertainment district said they were worried about crime and rowdy behavior. Supporters said it will promote economic development and attract young people and entrepreneurs.

Backers elsewhere in the state have said districts could be created within areas such as Columbus’ Arena District, the Flats in Cleveland, and the Banks in Cincinnati.

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