Football and tailgating go hand-in-hand.
But that may not necessarily be the case if youre talking about downtown Macon.
A couple of weeks ago, Macon City Councils Public Safety Committee tabled a move by the mayor to encourage tailgating downtown. Mayor Robert Reichert proposed lifting the citys open container law for Mercer Universitys eight Saturday home football games this fall.
In a 4-1 vote to table the idea, committee members said they are concerned about security and who would clean up city streets.
Some downtown restaurant and bar owners are excited about the prospects of increased sales with the return of Mercer football after decades of dormancy, but theyre equally concerned that council members lack of action could hinder business.
Were missing the boat if we dont do it, said Wes Griffith, co-owner of the Rookery and Dovetail restaurants. If theres good street activity, well open our Cherry Street bar out front (of the Rookery) and open our patio and get the game day spirit. Im for tailgating if its typical grilling out and enjoying a beer and not getting cited for (an) open container.
Lifting open container laws doesnt mean the streets will be littered with drunks and trash, Griffith added.
Cesare Mammarella, owner of Bearfoot Tavern, a favorite among Mercer students, said he doesnt understand why theres an issue.
Its a no-brainer, he said about allowing tailgating, (with) ... all of the residual effects it will have.
Mammarella, who also owns three other downtown bars and restaurants, said he anticipates a bump in business during home football games.
I dont think it will be a huge influx, but any influx is good, he said.
To not allow game-day tailgating downtown, is moronic and idiotic, Mammarella said.
Reichert proposed allowing open containers -- plastic cups or aluminum cans, but no glass bottles -- from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on home game days.
Keith Moffett, assistant to the citys chief administrative officer, said the mayors office proposed the tailgating idea to help boost business downtown.
The proposed tailgating activities would take place next to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in an effort to promote downtown to the thousands of alumni expected to visit Macon for the games.
The proposed tailgating district includes Stadium Drive leading to the football stadium -- the only city controlled street on Mercers campus -- and an area bounded by Ash, Fifth, Walnut and College streets, plus Tattnall Square Park.
Some of the Public Safety Committee members proposed the city asking Mercer to help foot the bill for increased security and public works downtown, but thats not going to happen.
Its a city initiative. This is not a Mercer initiative, Moffett said Friday.
Right now, we dont know (if the Public Works Department) is needed, Moffett added. We dont know what the turnout would be.
Councilman Virgil Watkins, chairman of the councils Public Safety Committee, said hes not opposed to the idea of allowing tailgating downtown, but he thinks the mayors office needs to provide more information.
The logistics were not presented clearly, Watkins said Friday. The committee along with myself have a few questions concerning public works and the cleanup and how that is going to be addressed, Watkins said Friday. Our public works does not work on the weekend.
Watkins said he is going to check back to see if the mayors office addressed the committees concerns. The matter will be discussed at its Aug. 12 meeting.
Watkins said he believes the matter will be resolved before the start of the season.
Information from Telegraph archives was used in this report. To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.