Sunday, August 8, 2004

Official says entertainment district never relaxed dress code regulations

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE - Tim Barnett says he was denied entry to a downtown entertainment district recently because his shorts were too long.

"I thought we had got past this," said Barnett, 29. "Just because my shorts come below my knees, it doesn't mean I'm going to come in and cause trouble."

Others also have complained of being turned away from 4th Street Live, a month after a controversy over the dress code seemed to be resolved.

Over the past couple of weeks, several people have said they were turned away from the complex because their shorts were too long or too baggy.

A representative of the Cordish Co., which owns the complex, said Friday that earlier media reports that the code had been relaxed were wrong.

Zed Smith, director of operating properties for Cordish, said the only change in the dress code since 4th Street Live opened is that sports jerseys are now allowed. He said that nothing else about the dress code has changed. However, the company has been handing out free T-shirts to men who show up wearing sleeveless tops.

The dress code bans eight items, including excessively baggy clothing, caps worn backward, construction boots and visible bandannas. The dress code is enforced only when Cordish closes off a section of Fourth Street. During that time, people are allowed to carry alcohol throughout the complex, and the street becomes property controlled by Cordish.

When the original controversy arose, Cordish met with community leaders from the Metro Council and local churches. At that time, the message from Cordish was that "no one would be turned away," said Metro Councilwoman Barbara Shanklin.

Of the 500,000 visitors who have come to the complex since it opened, Smith said, fewer than 500 have been turned away.

LaDiress Jenkins, 23, said he was turned away Thursday night because the mid-calf pants he had on came down nearly to his ankles. He said he tried to tighten his belt to make sure the pants were not as baggy, but he refused to roll up his pant legs just to get in.

Jenkins said he has gone to 4th Street Live several times but the "last couple of times it's been a problem." He and his friends said they felt they were targeted as blacks because they watched others, who were white, get into the complex, despite wearing baggy, long shorts.

Smith said race is not a factor in turning people away.

"A majority of the people who have been turned away haven't been African-American," Smith said.

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