Some Say Fourth Street Live Dress Code Is Discriminatory - News, Weather & Sports

Some Say Fourth Street Live Dress Code Is Discriminatory

By Connie Leonard

(LOUISVILLE, June 25th, 2004) -- Controversy continues to swirl over the dress code at the new Fourth Street Live. At issue is whether or not a seemingly arbitrary dress code can be enforced on public property. WAVE 3's Connie Leonard has the latest.

Kimber Goodwin, a spokeswoman for the Cordish Co., the group that built and owns Fourth Street Live, told us the dress code isn't an issue, but folks we talked to beg to differ. Some say telling them what to wear on a city street is a violation of their civil rights.

Some people are surprised when they find out food and fun on Fourth Street Live aren't for everybody. Dress code restrictions -- which are already irritating local residents -- stopped Janice Beard and others in her out of town group from getting a bite to eat Thursday because one of the men was wearing a jersey. "What kind of thing is that? I mean we're out-of-towners, is this how you treat out-of-towners? We've been coming here and getting food almost every day."

When Beard was told they couldn't enter because one of the young men in town for a Christian youth convention is wearing a sports jersey, she was upset, and promised to let everyone know it. "I'm going to get on my computer and I'm going to let everybody know all about how y'all treated us here in Kentucky."

The dress code that has been raising eyebrows and tempers goes like this: men can't go sleeveless but women can. In fact, women can show lots of skin as long as it's not "indecent exposure." And who makes that decision? A security guard.

The guard we spoke with told us jerseys are allowed, but only on "sports nights." Those sports nights will begin when Monday night football starts.

Of course, with a sports event on TV just about every day, almost any night could be sports night. We asked Cordish Co. spokeswoman Kimber Goodwin what Fourth Street Live operators have against jerseys. "It's just, you know, when you go out at night to a first-class environment -- it's certainly not a race issue -- it's just not appropriate attire when you have a night out on the town."

The other dress code requirement calls for all ball caps to face forward.

Louis Coleman and others plan to protest the dress code Monday at noon. Coleman says jerseys are a staple for young men of every race. "It's what they wear."

But Councilman Dan Johnson believes the dress code is a good idea. "I think they should have strict, strict dress codes there," he said, because "they don't want a certain element of people doing things there."

Councilwoman Denise Bently isn't so sure. "We did use taxpayers' money to fund that project. I've received a lot of phone calls and e-mails from people all around this community. I do personally have some concerns, and am in the process of scheduling a meeting with the Cordish Group."

Back at Fourth Street Live, a friendly police officer came to Beard's rescue. "I got a T-shirt in my car," he says. "You want to borrow my T-shirt?"

He, too, could do without the dress code. "It's discriminatory against people."

Beard, who was visiting Louisville from New Orleans, says "I don't understand how Kentucky can let these people come in here and dictate their tourism. According to Christ, we're dressed right, so if I'm dressing all right for Christ, what everybody else think don't matter to me."

The dress code is enforced Wednesday through Saturday nights. The Mayor's office says because Fourth Street Live has an arena liquor license, the blocked off area basically becomes private on those nights, and they aren't sure anything can be done.

Online Reporter: Connie Leonard

Online Producer: Michael Dever