Anonymous anti-Tiger Town posters found on downtown storefront windows

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 | 5:21 p.m. CST; updated 10:37 p.m. CST, Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Signs were found on the front of downtown businesses this morning including these four on the front doors of Shakespeare's Pizza, Quinton's Deli & Bar, Columbia Photo and Britches Clothing. The signs are part of a campaign to alert business owners about the plans for Tiger Town. Tiger Town has been proposed as a football game day location for out-of-town fans to eat and drink.

COLUMBIA — Downtown business owners found 8.5" x 14" posters urging the defense of downtown business strategically adhered to their establishments' front doors on Tuesday morning.

With bold, black type, the anonymous posters were individually tailored to each business depending on whether it sold food, beverage, clothing or other items such as cameras and flowers. The posters warned against the arrival of the proposed downtown area for fan tailgating and game day festivities, Tiger Town.

"This is not something we take lightly," said Greg Steinhoff, one of the organizers for Tiger Town. "It's surprising that someone would go to that extent. We have always been very receptive to everyone's input."

The group behind the posters emailed the Missourian at 3:26 a.m. describing the reason for the display of these posters.

"I represent a large group of downtown businesses who are furious and devastated that Tiger Town organizers want to have several blocks of food and alcohol vendors in Tiger Town on each game day weekend this fall," the anonymous email said. "Some of us are extremely frightened that we will go out of business because of Tiger Town."

When contacted by the Missourian to discuss the posters, the email sender chose to remain anonymous and not issue any further comment. 

The poster featured on the front door of Shakespeare's Pizza said, "Shakespeare's Pizza: Would you like vendors to sell pizza in front of your shop on your most important weekends of the year? Welcome to Tiger Town."

"Hiding behind anonymity with the thoughts expressed in the poster is a bit unnecessary and perhaps juvenile," said Kurt Mirtsching, manager of Shakespeare's Pizza. "If someone has an opinion on how the Tiger Town slating process is happening and what the priorities should be, they should come forward and express their concerns."

Mirtsching removed the poster from the window because, he believes it serves no relevance to the customers of Shakespeare's Pizza.

The anonymous poster included the personal cell phone number of Steinhoff and proposed that individuals call him in order to "stick up for downtown businesses."

Steinhoff said he's received an influx of phone calls expressing support and excitement from Columbia business owners regarding Tiger Town. He has not received any negative phone calls.

Kevin Fitzpatrick, owner of Harpos, found a poster at his bar Tuesday morning as well. 

"In general, we are supporters of Tiger Town," Fitzpatrick said. "In regards to Tiger Town, we think that a rising tide lifts all boats with one big caveat and that is, there has to be an equal playing field for everyone involved."

Fitzpatrick notes that beer and food tents should be first offered to the downtown businesses that operate in Columbia all year long, not outside vendors. But, he believes that through Tiger Town, Columbia businesses have the ability to thrive and excel as long as there are equal opportunities presented to all.

Steinhoff said the goal of Tiger Town is to direct as many visiting fans as possible to the downtown area to patronize shops, restaurants and bars in the area.

The organizers of Tiger Town have implemented a formal volunteer committee that are receiving the input and concerns regarding Tiger Town and then working towards applicable solutions, Steinhoff said.

"Tiger Town would show off our town and campus in the best possible way," Steinhoff said. "We need to keep the big goal in mind: To direct as many visitors to the downtown area in order to have a great experience in Columbia."

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John Schultz February 21, 2012 | 8:00 p.m.

I'm not sure why Mirtsching and Steinhoff are surprised that people want to express their comments anonymously. Look at the responses that the owners of Red and Moe and Bengal's received when they questioned the downtown street closure policy.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 8:05 p.m.

JohnS: Good point.

No...correct that.

Excellent point.

(Report Comment)
Ken Geringer February 21, 2012 | 8:23 p.m.

So, do the goofs have standing?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams February 21, 2012 | 8:58 p.m.

Ken: Why do you ask?

Who knows? Who cares?

Why is the answer to that question germane to the issue?

What if I did it? I live well away from downtown, but perhaps I think various small business owners might want to think more about this. Or, maybe I just like to stir pots. I decide to remain anonymous because Tiger Town supporters might crawl down my throat herein, and who needs that? I have no "standing", but so what?

Is the "point" valid or not, that is the question.

PS: The answer to your question is probably "yes". It's probably a downtown small business owner(s) who feels his/her business will be adversely affected. Are you upset because you don't have a target for your righteous indignation?

PSS: Sad that Cool Stuff is going out of business.

(Report Comment)
Mike McMillen February 22, 2012 | 4:10 a.m.

Tiger town? is that like Barter town?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 23, 2012 | 2:45 p.m.

These posters are a blight on Tiger Town.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin February 23, 2012 | 5:09 p.m.

I could write volumes -- no make that, I have written volumes -- about the onslaught against downtown merchants, from all the powerful corners.

Garagezilla. Garagezilla, Jr. The CID-SBD-CCA. TIFs. Blight. Eminent domain against Bengals Grill and the Addison's Boys. Higher parking fees. Higher parking tickets. Moaning and groaning from City Hall about cleaning up the alleys. That guy with the Tiger Hotel.

This is no surprise, and the idea that "We have always been very receptive to everyone's input," as Mr. Steinhoff glibly notes, seems disingenuous on its face.

Even ol' Hank doesn't like this, which is, to say the least, a departure from his usual line of thought:

People feel helpless in the face of this onslaught, and they are reacting accordingly. It's unfortunate, but not surprising.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin February 23, 2012 | 5:13 p.m.

Oh -- and Cool Stuff closing, too.

(Report Comment)
Ken Geringer February 23, 2012 | 6:50 p.m.

Michael, thanks, I didn't think anyone would care.

(Report Comment)

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