UF Plaza Block Party... Blocked
GAINESVILLE - After winning the first Gator football game of the season fans who went out to celebrate the big win may have noticed something different. The game day block party at the University of Florida Plaza is off. The businesses in the UF Plaza located on University Avenue and Northwest 17th Street seem to be disagreeing on a thing or two.
For the past three years during game days, fans have been able to enjoy party-filled tents on that parking lot, what they call a block party. However this year that won't be the case as the tenants could not come to an agreement.
"It's really disheartening and I hope that whatever issues that are existent can be worked out," said Tyler Redden, a student at the University of Florida.
Rowdy Reptile, Cooper Monkey, Pita Pit, Relish, Designer Greens and Flaco's could not come to an agreement for this year's block party. They were all sent a letter from their landlord, that the party had been called off. And that's mostly because of the event's set up, the owner of Designer Greens Steven Kay tells me. "I just wanted to unblock the sidewalk so that our patrons that wanted to go to designer greens knew we were open and could get to us. Without having to fight around mobs of people and wonder if we were actually open," Kay said.
If tenants wish to serve beer outside on game days, they need a temporary license called "Extensions of Premises," and that setup blocks off Designer Greens, Kay said. This is why he requested not to shut down the party but instead "remove the outdoor alcohol sales" so that the sidewalk near his entrance could open up.
However neighbors like Cooper Monkey disagree.
Libby Kesselring, mother of owner Rob Zeller and manager of Cooper Monkey said, "For us it does help us get through the summer months which are really slow... It gives us students. You know we bring on 4-5 extra students to run that tent and it gives them a job... It makes it fun for the community, the students, the staff... They party down there afterwards. We had live music, it was just fun," she said.
Kay says Designer Greens has lost revenue as a result of the sidewalk being blocked. "I am all up for finding a solution. I would like to sit down with all of the owners in the plaza and have an amicable business like conversation and maybe we can figure out a way for myself to be happy and everyone happy and then games 2-6 go back to partying for the game days," Kay said.
Other tenants I spoke to also fear losing revenue without the block parties. This is why most of the owners I talked to, say they hope things can be fixed for the games to come.
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