The city of Waleska is preparing for a surge of activity Saturday morning with droves of football fans expected to descend on the tiny town for the Reinhardt University Eagles’ first home game.
Waleska Mayor Doris Jones said Thursday that the turnout for the inaugural home game is expected to be “very, very large,” and talk of the event is the “buzz” all around the city of about 600 non-student residents.
“Tickets have been just flying off the market. If it’s not sold out, it’s close to selling out,” Jones said. “We might actually have a traffic jam at the four-way stop.”
Marsha White, spokeswoman for Reinhardt University, said Thursday that the Eagles’ game, which begins at noon Saturday and is against Lindsey Wilson College, is “not quite sold out,” but sales are good.
“We’re probably expecting between 1,500 and 2,000 people here, based on the tickets we’ve already given out,” White said.
But given that Reinhardt’s projected attendance is more than double the city’s regular population, City Manager Aimee Abernathy said Thursday that managing the event is a little more than the city staff could handle.
“The city’s not doing very much (preparation),” Abernathy said. “All the city’s doing pretty much is decorating. We have three employees. It’s kind of hard for us to manage that kind of event.”
As a result, Abernathy said the city has turned over much of the extra preparation for the game to Reinhardt University, which was willing to cooperate.
White said the university’s public safety department will be overseeing traffic and parking to accommodate those tailgating and attending the game, and it has coordinated with local authorities to have police and emergency personnel on hand.
But White said all the preparations haven’t been easy.
“We’ve been meeting for over a year to be sure things are all in place,” she said.
Jones said she and members of the City Council have been involved in some of the planning sessions, and the months of work and anticipation has already made the officials fans of the team, which is expected to drive more activity to the city in general.
“Not too long ago, they said ‘Waleska will never be the same again,’” Jones said. “We’re just so excited. We feel such a part of it.”