Harpo's Tries Closing Cherry Street for Certain MU Football Games
COLUMBIA - The owners of Harpo's are trying to close a part of Cherry Street for select MU home football games.
Owner Kevin Fitzpatrick said he wants to close the street down between 9th and 10th streets between 2 p.m. on Friday and 2 a.m. on Sunday.
Fitzpatrick wants to create a "Harpo's hospitality area" for football fans, MU alumni and visiting SEC teams.
Victor Shipley, general manager of Harpo's in Columbia, said other cities close down parts of their downtown area for three or four days. He said Harpo's will provide live entertainment and drink specials on the street.
"I think Columbia is behind by not doing this," Shipley said. "My understanding currently is that the SEC has come to the city and to the university and said, 'Hey, you're in the big leagues now. This is an SEC conference. You're an SEC city. You need to provide a better experience.'"
Community organizers tried creating a "Tiger Town" business zone for football Saturdays. City and university leaders supported the idea. However, due to the lack of bar owner support and funding, the city did not approve it. Shipley said there was some concern that "Tiger Town" would take away from some downtown businesses, but Shipley doesn't agree.
"We feel there's enough business to go around. We feel like the more people that are coming down to the district and coming to Columbia is a win-win for everybody," Shipley said.
Harpo's asked for street closure on the four biggest home games. Two are in October and two are in November. Shipley said that's when the biggest crowds will be there.
Fitzpatrick said Harpo's asked for a similar request three years ago. It asked for street closure for all home games, but the request wasn't approved by the Columbia City Council.
"They didn't think it was a unique enough event for closure," Fitzpatrick said.
Both Shipley and Fitzpatrick said they are trying to provide what "Tiger Town" could have.