By Natalie Simms
It’s been nine months since we’ve heard the cries of “Go Dawgs,” “Roll Tide,” “War Eagle” and more from college football fans but the wait is over as the 2017 season gets serious this weekend.
Local fans not only root for their favorite team, but they spend lots of money each season on everything from team merchandise to tailgating events to football “watch” parties. Some fans even go so far as to schedule their weddings around game day. We may be “obsessed” with college football in Northwest Georgia.
“From May through August, we just hold our breath until college football starts and thank God it’s back,” says Jay Shell, co-owner of Rome City Brewing Co. at 325 Broad St. “It (football) is huge for us. We do less music on Saturdays and concentrate on college football. We have a big screen from the stage and run games through our sound system so it really feels like you’re at the game…it’s a great game day experience, lots of fun.”
Shell says business increases by about 50 percent on Saturdays from now through December. With 15 TVs throughout the building, there will be lots of games on for all fans.
“The first game we will have this week will be Alabama vs. FSU. We pick our game of the week based on the match-ups. We do have a ton of UGA fans and lots of Alabama fans so we do lean more to those two teams,” he says.
“We will have more staff. We serve a lot of wings and drink specials. And we started Rome City Brewing last November, so this will be our first full season with our brew. We sold a lot of growlers last year on football Saturdays, so we’re excited to see how we do with an entire full-season of sales.”
Mellow Mushroom at 238 Broad St. is also busy during football season.
“We most definitely are busy during football season. We have six big screens with four different satellites so we can get just about any game. We always have the UGA games over the speakers,” says Keri Powell, general manager. “New for this year will be buckets of beer and drink specials to go along with their popular pizza and wings.”
The deli departments at both Kroger and Publix also see an uptick in chicken and wing orders during football season.
“We are very busy on Saturdays during football season. We sell wings and lots of chicken. Sometimes we have 1,000-piece orders on the weekend,” says Dianne Perkins, Bakery manager at Rome Kroger, 1476 Turner McCall Blvd. “Our chicken tender batter is from Southeastern Mills, so that is very popular with local customers.”
Kroger does ask for 24-hour advance notice on large orders and party trays. You can order online or call 706-290-8039.
In addition to wings and party trays, Rome’s Publix prepares a lot of sub sandwiches during the fall, according to Deli Manager Cindy Nelson.
“We are busy during football season, especially the closer we get to the playoffs. We have lots of Georgia fans here. We do a lot of orders of sub trays, chicken and wings. We ask for 24-hour notice on orders if possible.” You can place orders online or call 706-291-3380.
Selling college merchandise and memorabilia also is a big business; just ask the folks at Traditions of Rome at 101 E. Second Ave.
“As soon as football starts, its gets crazy in here,” says owner Rudy Childs. “About 75 percent of my business is college merchandise. There is not a day that goes by that we don’t sell something college-related especially something for Georgia or Alabama.”
One of the busiest weekends for The Seasons Events each fall? Georgia’s off weekend, says Holly Lynch.
“The top five teams we sell the most merchandise for would be Georgia, Alabama, Auburn, FSU and then tie between Ole Miss and Florida,” says Childs. “We carry items for a total of 38 schools plus 12 pro teams including the Atlanta Falcons and Pittsburgh Steelers.”
Traditions carries just about anything and everything related to college football, including apparel, flags, car tags, decals, Tervis cups, signage, signed artwork, wallets, key chains, Christmas ornaments, tailgate items (serving items, tablecloths, plates, napkins), plus bedroom and bathroom accessories including linens, curtains and more.
For many local brides, the college football schedule is an important consideration when setting a wedding date. Holly Lynch, owner of The Season Events in Rome, says fall is the busiest time of year for weddings despite college football.
“October is most popular followed by November. Brides do look the football schedule of their favorite team or alma mater,” she says. “We do schedule a lot of weddings around football schedules, especially Georgia’s open weekend. Sometimes customers work it into their plan depending on game times. But football is definitely a consideration.”
Lynch says one of the slowest day is the SEC Championship the first weekend of December. Her company can handle up to five events in one day with their staff of 60 employees.
“Around here, usually it is the Georgia football schedule that we work around,” she says. “We have made special accommodations for football fans including having TV with the game playing in a lounge area with the bar. We’ve done that a number of times at the (Coosa) Country Club and at private homes hosting events.”