The World's Game Brings Bars Business
SAVOY -- Bars across Champaign-Urbana were packed by 9:00 Friday morning. It's neither "Unofficial" nor an Illini pigskin Saturday. Instead, it was the world's version of football that brought big bucks to local businesses.
The Buffalo Wild Wings in Savoy opened at 9. Some places on campus started serving at 8:30. Normally, summer is a slow time for these businesses because so many students are gone. But Friday, patriotism kept many bars packed.
Some people call soccer an equalizer, a sport the world has in common. But for local bars and restaurants it's a money-maker.
"Last Saturday when USA and England played, it was like an Illini game in here," said Joseph Evans, G.M. of the Buffalo Wild Wings, "Looking over the crowd, I was like 'oh the Illini's playing today?"
And just like an Illini tailgate, some fans went right for the beer.
"We're doing good alcohol sales," said Evans, "But at 9:00 in the morning, they get one beer and sit with that one beer for a couple hours and that's fine."
Most of the fans we saw stayed away from the booze altogether.
"No, I just had breakfast and a Diet Coke," said Jach Hutchens, who watched the game at Firehaus, "It's a little too early for me to drink."
And the fans who are having a drink or two have yet to cause any problems for police.
"To my knowledge and I've talked to the district commander as well, we've not had any calls or problems related to gatherings at the bars, even with the early opens," said Sgt. Scott Friedlein of the Champaign Police.
With a 10 -15% sales boos and no arrests, Evans says he would change only one thing.
"If they had the games at night, I think it'd be a little bit better," he said, "But it's night in South Africa and daytime here so it all works out."
The World Cup continues what's been a great month for local bars. Even though the students left, big crowds gathered to watch the Blackhawks march to a Stanley Cup championship. Now, bar owners are hoping the U.S. soccer team can make a run of its own.
The U.S. next plays on Wednesday. All the bar owners we talked to plan on opening early for that match.
Reported by A.J. Bayatpour
Posted: June 18, 2010