Montgomery leaders address Camellia Bowl complaints

Published: Jan. 11, 2023 at 7:44 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2023 at 10:27 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - “I survived Montgomery.” That is written on a t-shirt created by one Georgia Southern merchandise company summing up the experience of some fans at the Camellia Bowl.

It comes after long lines and a lack of open restaurants at the annual football game. Now, city leaders are responding to get to the bottom of what happened.

“We want to be responsive to those critiques that we hear when we hear them,” said Mayor Steven Reed.

Tourism is a major contributor to the city’s lodging tax, and the mayor wants visitors to feel welcome. Instead, Georgia Southern fans struggled to find food because downtown restaurants were closed.

One family shared with WSFA’s sister station, WTOC, in Georgia.

“I just can’t imagine that you know thousands and thousands of people are coming to your town, that you just wouldn’t have everything open,” said Michelle Biggers.

The mayor admits more must be done to encourage eateries to stay open.

“We realized that there has to be more collaboration between the city and our downtown merchants and retailers,” Reed said.

The frustration continued on gameday. Organizers were expecting around 10,000 fans, instead more than 15,000 showed up.

The city said they had plenty of food but needed more places to hand it out.

One solution could be adding more venders. The city plans to utilize a portion of Madison Avenue at the next bowl game.

“Bring in tables, bring in food trucks, put a flat screen TV there,” said Director of Parks and Recreation David Card. “We’ll try to make that space an additional space for concession process.”

The city wants to work on streamlining the ticketing process to prevent excessive lines.

Plus, they are considering additional parking. One solution could be a shuttle service from Alabama State University to the stadium.

Additionally, the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce is working to prevent future problems.

Ron Simmons, the Chief Officer of Destination and Community Development, released the following statement:

“Montgomery’s tourism leadership strives to deliver world class visitor experiences and events. We are aware that this did not occur for some Camellia Bowl attendees this year. To address this, we are putting together a task force to develop and implement a strategy that will ensure that our tourism venues, businesses and professionals are prepared and empowered to create a positive and memorable experience for event attendees in the future.”

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