Ann Hortman with the Greater Rome Convention and Visitors Bureau said all of the four semi-finalists are from within reasonable driving distance of Rome.
“That’s good for the fan base, so regardless of who comes it’s going to be an exciting game,” Hortman said.
Bob Berry, the Rome attorney who serves as co-chair of the local championship game organizing committee, said the committee hopes the weeknight game will help with local attendance.
“We haven’t had overwhelming crowds on Saturday,” Berry said. “Shorter has had great success with the games they’ve done on Thursday night. There’s not a TV conflict and we’re not competing with the high school play-off games at the (Georgia) Dome. We’re not competing with people’s weekend shopping days. We’ll just see what happens.”
Teams will arrive Dec. 10. The annual Fellowship of Christian Athletes luncheon will be Tuesday at The Forum featuring Hoover, Ala., High School football coach Josh Niblett. Tickets, at $25 apiece, are still available. On Tuesday night First Baptist Church and St. Mary’s Catholic Church will host the teams for steak dinners. Wednesday night, the Banquet of Champions will take place at The Forum. Tickets, at $30, are also available for that event.
Hortman encouraged restaurants and retailers to again paint their windows and offer special promotions geared toward football fans.
“That’s one thing we hear from everybody, our southern hospitality,” Hortman said.
The halftime show at the game will feature Scott Thompson and Peachtree Station performing in the end zone of the stadium.
“We couldn’t get Madonna out at the center of the field so we’re doing the next best thing,” Hortman said.
The local organizing committee agreed to cut its contract with the NAIA short so that the 2013 game will be the final opportunity for Rome to host the game, unless it rebids for the event.
In other business, Hal Gosnell, chairman of the local Toys for Tots Drive, also briefed merchants about plans for the annual toy drive.
“Last year, 1,600 kids in Rome benefited from the Toys for Tots. I also have responsibility for Polk and Chattooga counties, and we expect about 400 in each of those counties,” Gosnell said.
Registration is being handled by Good Neighbor Ministries on Second Street.
Gosnell said he has received 21 pallets of books, 10 pallets of Play Dough and 20 pallets of toys from various manufacturers and retailers.
“Because of this we’re packaging about $115 worth of toys into one big bag of toys for the kids,” Gosnell said.
Gosnell told the merchants that cash gifts to help purchase toys are tax deductible. A benefit auction to benefit Toys for Tots is planned for Dec. 6 at the Rome Civic Center at 5:30 p.m.
For years the Marine Corps Reserve unit in Rome managed Toys for Tots. The Exchange Club of Rome has come on board as a major sponsor since the Marine unit left Rome.
Many of the downtown merchants brought toys and stuffed animals for the campaign to the Coffee Break program, hosted by Mellow Mushroom.
Upcoming events in downtown include the Rome Federated Garden Clubs Festival of Trees at the Rome Area History Museum today from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
DisABILITY LINK NW’s third annual Festival of Wreaths fundraiser will continue through Dec. 13. Downtown merchants are decorating their stores with wreaths that customers can bid on through Dec. 13 at 4 p.m.