It still feels like summer, but fall is in the air as the college football season begins, and downtown Macon wants to be a big part of Mercer Universitys return to the gridiron.
NewTown Macon, its Live Downtown initiative, Main Street Macon and the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame invite Mercer fans to tailgate from noon-5 p.m. Saturday in Cherry Street Plaza.
Weve always wanted to have big-time sports in Macon, and now that we have Division 1 football right next door, we want to be a part of it, said Ben Sapp, sports hall managing director, adding that the event is a standard tailgating scenario and people are welcome to bring pop-up tents, tables, chairs, coolers and small grills to set up in the plaza.
Though the event is family-friendly, open container restrictions have been modified, and tailgaters will be allowed to walk around with their drinks, said Kris Hattaway, director of place for NewTown Macon. Entertainment will be provided by the A2Z Band from 3-5 p.m. and face painting also will be available.
Additional football coverage will be provided on a giant LED screen in the plaza, as well as on the screen in the sports halls theater. The sports hall is offering free admission all day Saturday, which includes the restrooms for tailgaters, and also will feature a small Mercer University sports exhibit in the rotunda, including items not seen before, Sapp said.
Mechel McKinley, Main Street Macon manager, said downtown restaurants and shops also will be open Saturday, with some offering game day specials to Mercer football ticketholders.
Were also encouraging businesses downtown and all over Macon to get in the spirit by decorating their windows, tying up balloons or having their employees wear orange and black or other Mercer University game gear, she said.
Plenty of free parking is available downtown, and tailgate sponsors have partnered with the Macon Transit Authority to offer shuttles from Terminal Station to the stadium every 15 minutes for just $2 per person round trip.
Tailgating will be held in the plaza for every Mercer home game except Oct. 19, Hattaway said, with McKinley adding that music will again be provided for homecoming, Nov. 23, featuring the Grapevine Band.
Saturday, the sports hall will have on sale for $25 two passes that will allow entry during tailgating on the dates of the rest of the Mercer home games this season. Were very excited and are hoping for a very festive atmosphere, Sapp said.
Mercer Tailgating Party
When: Noon-5 p.m. Aug. 31
Where: Cherry Street Plaza, downtown Macon