MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - Downtown businesses are reacting to Macon City Council's decision to allow open containers in sections of the city when the Mercer Bears play at home.
Fans who want to drink outside before home games this fall--better known as tailgating--now have the green light. From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on those eight Saturdays, fans can have open containers--aluminum or plastic, no glass bottles--in Tattnall Square Park and in a few designated sections of downtown.
With more than 10,000 people expected for the first game, downtown businesses aren't sure yet what that first Saturday will be like.
"You know, we're cautiously optimistic," says Drew Kitchens, manager at Lemongrass Thai Bistro. "It's kind of hard to say either way, because it really hasn't happened yet. We're cautiously optimistic; we're looking forward to seeing the fans."
Some businesses may worry all their front parking spaces will be swallowed up when all those people come into town. Not a problem, says Bearfoot Tavern manager Hannah Stark.
"Parking's always kind of a stretch downtown," she says. "But there are several parking garages that have several spaces. There's one on Poplar you can always find a space in; it's free, and there's the one for GCSU next door. I think if people start realizing that's just where you need to park instead of on the street, I don't think it's going to be an issue."
Mike Myers, a bartender at Bearfoot Tavern, says this decision is exactly what downtown needed.
"Being downtown and seeing these places, being relevant with these places, more people will get business," he says. "Everybody will get business."
"It's an exciting thing to see the influx of people," says Kitchens. "It's a big part of Macon downtown, so we're excited to see what's gonna come of it."
The ordinance passed by city council only makes it legal to have open containers. The rest of the details, like security and cleanup, still have to be worked out.
Mercer's first home game is August 31.