Fans gather for Tigers season opener

Saturday, September 1, 2007 | 8:27 p.m. CDT; updated 4:45 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Fans, from left, Sam Harris, Eric Javorsky, Cole Chambers and Laura Newell react to a nail-biter of a game on Saturday in the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

COLUMBIA — John Fewell, 44, sat on a bar stool in the Black & Gold surrounded by fellow Missouri football fans Saturday afternoon.

“Those shiny helmets haven’t been dinged up yet this year,” he said as the Tigers came into view on the television mounted on the wall.

Both of the bar’s televisions featured the team’s season opener against Illinois. Many of the Black & Gold’s occupants said they often come to the bar to watch Missouri football games.

Charles Bever, 43, said he rarely fails to watch a game, whether at the bar or at his home or a friend’s. Bever became a college sports fan after moving to Columbia from Kansas about eight years ago.

“You don’t miss a game. It kind of brings you in,” he said.

Fewell said Columbia seemed like a different town with the Tigers playing in St. Louis.

“I miss the home football game,” Fewell said.

The bar’s patrons agreed that the venue for the game should rotate between Columbia and Champaign.

“Restaurants, gas stations and motels lose revenue when you move it out of town,” Bever said.

Kristi Wilson, 33, agreed that the city’s businesses were losing out with the game being held in St. Louis.

“It’s our team and we have a big enough city to accommodate everything,” she said.

Bever and Fewell said they often tailgate before or after home games. But Memorial Stadium was empty of fans Saturday afternoon, and even the Black & Gold was less crowded than it is during many home games.

But those who were there Saturday afternoon cheered as the game began.

“That’s right, push it!” one patron shouted as Missouri began its first drive toward the end zone.

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