Macon Proposes Open Containers for Mercer Tailgaters

11:59 AM, Jul 16, 2013   |    comments
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Macon city administrators hope a sold-out Mercer stadium on August 31st will mean a packed downtown before kickoff.

Monday night, a city council committee debated whether to allow tailgaters to have open containers during Mercer's eight home games.

It would only be allowed on city property in a designated area of downtown between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.

Tailgaters would be able to carry plastic or paper cups, plastic bottles, or aluminum cans of alcohol, but no glass.

Council member Nancy White says the city needs to find ways, like this, to make it easier and more inviting for game day visitors to come downtown.

"It's a great economic development opportunity dropped in our laps thanks to Mercer, and really, it could fall under the umbrella of Tourism if you want to look at it that way. The students of Mercer will be on campus but this is for visitors who want to come and take advantage of football back in Macon," says White.

The other members of the public safety committee voted to put off the decision until administrators gave more information on how the clean-up would work after game days.

Committee chair Virgil Watkins says he thinks Mercer should foot the bill.

"I think their event and their gate would be the main reason for people parking downtown and walking their cups and trash through the city for the purposes for getting to the gate at Mercer. So I think they would be more responsible than any other party," he says.

Keith Moffett with the mayor's office says Mercer is only responsible for cleaning up their property.

He says, "They have no requirement of doing anything downtown. We know that there are going to be some alumni, there are going to be some tours coming in for that day, and we want to encourage them to come downtown, and with that comes routine trash and routine chances to do events."

That will also mean increased law enforcement.

Mechel McKinley with Main Street Macon says her group is working with the public works and police departments to minimize costs.

She says their plan also includes using two Macon Transit Authority buses to shuttle people between downtown and the stadium for $2 round-trip.

Several downtown parking decks will also be open for visitors during game days.

Watkins says he supports those ideas, but still wants more information on the cost to the city. He says he does not know when the open container ordinance will be back on the agenda.

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