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March 22, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Greg Steinhoff is a Mizzou fan, but he’s not the kind of fan who orders wings, grabs a beer and wears his favorite Mizzou gear. Instead, Steinhoff has spent his time organizing a fan zone downtown, an idea he borrowed from the University of Oklahoma’s Campus Corner.
Steinhoff, a 52-year-old local mortgage broker, works at the VA Mortgage Center. He previously worked as director of the Missouri Department of Economic Development before serving as executive vice president of business at Boone County National Bank.
Tiger Town is what Steinhoff envisions as the ultimate fan zone, encompassed within several blocks, currently proposed on Eighth Street between Broadway and Elm Street. It would offer a variety of vendors and food and adapt the city’s open-container ordinance to allow for open containers within the enclosed area. Business owners and MU officials are currently concerned that Tiger Town will interfere with business and encourage binge drinking among students.
The Columbia City Council is still discussing plans for Tiger Town. Steinhoff says he’s ready to change 50 years of tailgating traditions in hopes that Tiger Town will take inspiration from SEC schools. In his office, with a barbecue grill decal on the door, Steinhoff explains why he thinks Tiger Town is the best thing for the city.
Why is Tiger Town important as Mizzou moves to the SEC?
We’ve spent the past 40 or 50 years in the Big 8 and Big 12 with the same people. Now, we have new people, a whole new community. The entertainment value on game day is really important. This is a whole new family. It’s going to be our first impression to these new fans. We should give them red carpet treatment so that they want to come back.
How are you working to build a relationship between local businesses and Tiger Town?
We have lots of events. People in these shops are anxious, but we want to create an area that would affect very few businesses. Parking will be on an outer perimeter. There’s an open container ordinance that we’d be taking advantage of. There will be five or six blocks of booze. We want to move people through Columbia, like a tiger trail, so they start downtown and end up on campus.
How do you plan to meet the goals of maintaining “blocks of booze” as well as a kid-friendly environment?
All of the vendors will have liquor licenses. We have options for public policy — no open containers outside of a bar or a restaurant and the other (policy) that allows open containers as long as there’s no public intoxication. On game days, we’ll adhere to the latter. We’ll have mounted police.
What do you think about the flyers posted at downtown businesses that stated they should be worried about Tiger Town interfering with their revenue?
It’s simply not true. It’s fear mongering. The area we’re looking at has hardly any retailers, so there would be no interruption of business. Businesses could also have booths on Eighth Street. We’re hoping that the stores will choose the vendors; they’re not competing. Right now we’re meeting with business owners. Some of them are on the committee. There’s also a lot of anxiety. I think people are going to be OK with the concept.
How will Tiger Town generate revenue?
Right now it’s a volunteer committee. We’re hoping people will want to set up booths and pay a fee, or maybe get some sponsorship. We should be able to generate a lot of revenue. We (Mizzou) bring 15,000 people down (for games).
How will Tiger Town make an impact on tailgating?
I doubt it will affect it at all. People don’t spend all day there. They’ll visit Tiger Town, tailgate and then go to their favorite restaurant or bar. They’ll be walking up and down. People are not going to give up tailgating.