Business Owners Meet with Tiger Town Organizers

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COLUMBIA- More Tiger Town discussion - but more transparent than anonymous flyers distributed two weeks ago.  The Columbia Improvement District Representatives on the Tiger Town Committee are hosting meetings this week to allow local business owners to voice their comments and concerns about Tiger Town. Tiger Town is the plan for a downtown Columbia fan zone on football game days beginning in the fall -- a zone with food, beverage and trinket vendors.

Columbia Improvement District Representative Debbie Sheals believes Tiger Town has great potential and the meetings this week were a good start to positive communication between everyone involved.

"It's the start of a long dialogue and it's always good to get everyone in the same room and talk face-to-face," Sheals said. "There is only so much you through second hand information or emails or written things."

No plans are set, but the original plan to block off Locust Street between Fifth and Ninth streets has changed. The committee is now planning to block off 8th Street from Walnut to Elm Street on football game days for vendors. The committee decided to move Tiger Town to Eighth Street because it is a more neutral area with fewer businesses than on Locust. The committee believes this will allow all downtown businesses to benefit. 

Billiards on Broadway owner Molly Wagner attended one of the meetings said the project is going in the right direction.

"We (Columbia Business Owners) are engaged in a positive, productive and constructive dialogue about Tiger Town," Wagner said. 

The Tuesday meeting discussed an open-container law for all of downtown, the new location, and directional signs pointing to established businesses from the area of Tiger Town vendors. The meeting Monday discussed a rough budget of $350,000 for Tiger Town. That money would come from vendor fees, sponsorships and grants.

Approximately twenty people met on Monday. Tuesday morning, eight people met to continue the conversation.