Auburn businesses prep for first home football game amid pandemic

Auburn businesses prep for first home football game amid pandemic

AUBURN, Ala. (WTVM) - Businesses in Auburn are keeping their fingers crossed that the first home game Saturday will bring in some money after the financial hit of the pandemic.

These home football games mean a lot to businesses downtown.

“We live for these weekends,” said Shelby Cohan, the manager of Charming Oaks Clothing Company. “It’s what carries us through the year sometimes.”

2020 has brought the pandemic 20 percent capacity at Jordan-Hare Stadium and no tailgating.

“We know obviously it’s going to be different this season,” said Paul Reggio, the manager of the Hotel at Auburn University.

Still, ahead of Saturday’s first home football game against Kentucky, businesses in downtown Auburn are gearing up.

“We do think people will still come in town, whether to see their kids or just because it’s what they typically do on a game day,” Cohan said.

Reggio said the Hotel at Auburn University is at 60 percent capacity for the weekend of the season opener.

“We are not at 100 percent capacity, but we do have all of our COVID response plans in place this weekend, and we feel really comfortable about it,” he said.

Some of those COVID response plans include touchless check-in, sanitized bags of guest room items like pens and coffee pods, as well as special valet operations with disposable steering wheel and gear shift covers. Reggio said the hotel is also hosting a socially-distanced viewing party for guests.

“You can sit, you can watch the game live, enjoy that atmosphere of Auburn University,” he said. “Walk across the street, walk around campus, really enjoy the excitement.”

Cohan said Charming Oaks makes $30,000 to $50,000 during normal home game weekends. They don’t really know what to expect Saturday, but they’re optimistic.

“I think most of the students get to go to this game, so that means they’re all going to have game day outfits,” she said. “It’s the excitement of SEC football being back. We have to stay hopeful that this goes well and games can continue.”

Kick off is at 11 a.m. CDT Saturday.

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