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Cold beer sales controversy heats up ahead of Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– During the Indy 500 race weekend in Speedway, Big Red Liquors says the hot item will be cold beer and people will be lining up for it.

“They’re usually about all the way back there by that door and we have both registers going,” said store manager Austin Nicholas.

However, there won’t be any lines for cold beer at convenience stores in Indiana.

Under Indiana Law, you can’t buy cold beer at a convince store or a grocery store.  You can only buy cold beer at liquor store and convince store owners say that’s just not fair.

“I think they should be able to buy cold beer I don’t understand the thought behind it,” said convenience employee Robin Hammerling.

Convenience store operators say it hurts their bottom line.  They say they are losing a lot of money to liquor stores.

“They definitely will go there and pay a higher price than what we sell it at just so they can get it cold,” said Hammerling.

“We’ve done extensive price surveys at liquor stores and find that they add a dollar or two dollars onto a case of beer on cold or warm,” said Scot Imus, executive director of the Indiana Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.  “I mean Subway doesn’t charge me more when I ask them to heat my sandwich.”

Now, the Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association is suing the state for the right to sell cold beer.

“We feel strongly that as the structure has evolved it is unconstitutional,” said John Maley with law firm Barnes and Thornburg.  “It’s just a matter of equal treatment.”

He says its matter of catching up with the rest of the nation.

“We’re the only one that has this restriction and one of the few that can’t sell it the way the consumer really wants to buy,” said Imus.

Meanwhile, Big Red Liquors in Speedway will be racing to bank with its cold beer sales race weekend.

“Saturday we’ll do about 30,000 to 35,000 thousand total sales and about 85 percent of that will be beer,” said Nicholas.