WMAZ13 by Nicole Butler
The Macon Coliseum won't be as full this week as it has been in past years. After almost 50 years of holding the state basketball tournament here in Macon, the Georgia High School Association is taking the tournament on the road. The change came after some problems at last year's tournament at the Macon Coliseum. For example, the basketball goals weren't in the proper place.
The 2017 state finals will be held in two locations this year, Athens and Atlanta. That means dozens of players and thousands of fans won't be coming to Macon as in years past. Businesses in downtown Macon says they'll feel the tournament's absence.
"People coming from out of state, it gives us a opportunity to show what Macon has to offer," Mark Manning, a manager at the Rookery says.
But when big events like the Georgia High School State Tournament choose not to return, it puts a pretty big dent in those businesses pockets.
"Probably say we lost, probably five figures per day in business just from those tournaments," says Manning.
The Rookery says even though it may not be the numbers they are used to this time of year, they still have a good bit of business. But right across the street, Doughboy Pizza is getting hit a little harder.
"We would be, on average getting basketball teams, we'd probably average five teams a day coming in here getting something to eat," says Roger Ruiz, the owner of Doughboy Pizza.
Ruiz says losing that business not only costs him, but the community as well.
"Every dollar I lose from lack of business is a dollar less I get to put into the community," he says. He believes that Macon offers more to the Georgia High School Association than any other city around.
"We have a huge stadium, a beautiful area that needs to be utilized, you know. Our central location is the best for everyone participating in the tournament," says Ruiz. Location is everything.
"The unique thing about Macon is there is really no other competition around unless you go to Atlanta or you go to Savannah, so we feel like in the future, there will be a lot of success stories coming out of the facility," says David Aiello, general manager of the Macon Centreplex.
Aiello says by bringing in bigger names like R. Kelly and ZZ Top, he is able to lessen the blow of the tournament no longer being in town. He says that they are working with the Georgia High School Association to try to bring the tournament back to Macon in future years. The Centreplex is working with SPLOST on a daily basis to help fix up the Coliseum. Some of the things they want to focus on is fixing the WiFi in the building as well as upgrading the concession stands.