Untelevised Missouri football game could hurt Columbia sports bars

Friday, November 6, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 12:49 a.m. CST, Friday, November 6, 2009

COLUMBIA — For every Missouri home football game, a section of the parking lot at Stadium Grill is reserved for fans without tickets coming to watch the game on TV.

It won’t be reserved Saturday. With Missouri’s game against Baylor not on television, Columbia sports bars are finding other ways to generate business.

A nontelevised game is somewhat of a rarity in college football. This is the first game of Missouri's season that won't be televised. Missouri had two games last season that weren't televised, a home game against Buffalo and a game at Baylor.

Nationally, 88 percent of games with a Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) team will be televised this weekend, though some are only regional telecasts. The Missouri-Baylor game is one of only two games involving a team from a BCS conference that won't be televised. The other game, Maryland at North Carolina State, will be shown over the Internet on ESPN360 but won't be on television.

At Buffalo Wild Wings on Peachtree Drive, Missouri football games have turned Saturday into the busiest day of the week. Bar manager Tom Masters cites the state of the economy, the Rams’ and Chiefs’ struggles and the Cardinals’ early playoff exit for keeping sales below expectations. But Missouri football games have been a consistent moneymaker.

“We’re usually almost at capacity for every game that’s on TV,” he said.

But he expects Saturday to be different, anticipating only a small crowd of people coming in to watch other games while the Tigers play.

“We’ll probably reduce our staff,” Masters said, “because nobody is going to come in, obviously, for the game.”

Masters does not expect Saturday to be a total loss. He said Buffalo Wild Wings gets a lot of business after the game from fans leaving the stadium. He doesn’t expect that to change.

“We’re pretty good about getting business after the game,” he said. “Within 45 minutes to the end of the game, we’ll start getting people from the game. We’re pretty close to the stadium.”

Bengals Bar and Grill, located on Sixth Street, runs a bus to and from the game.

“We’re very disappointed, wish it would have been on TV,” general manager Jay Rader said.

Rader is hoping the shuttle will bring in enough fans before and after the game to make up for any lull during the game.

“I’m kind of expecting more people to show up beforehand and probably use our shuttle, which already gets a pretty good turnout as it is,” Rader said. “We’re expecting a pretty big lunch crowd. We’ve got some parties booked for some organizations before the game. That’s really it. Hopefully after the game, people will come down and celebrate a victory.”

At Stadium Grill, located on Fellow’s Place within eyesight of the stadium, managing partner Ron Coleman said his restaurant’s location will help it deal with the game not being televised.

“We’re almost in the eye of the hurricane here with the activity around Hearnes and the arena,” Coleman said.

Coleman said the crowd the restaurant will get from fans on the way to the game and leaving the game will make up for any loss of business during the game.

“Frankly, it does not affect my business whatsoever,” Coleman said. “I’m going to be slammed from 10 in the morning until we close it up at midnight, all day long.”

Mike Geiss, manager at Campus Bar and Grill on Ninth Street, said he is hoping for a lopsided Missouri win to get fans out of the stadium and back to the restaurant.

“If the game goes the way we all want it to, and we’re winning by a large margin, then people will start filtering back after halftime,” he said. “I do believe.”

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