The search for the perfect sports bar

Local bars are trying to lure more students to watch games off-campus.
Local bars are trying to lure more students to watch games off-campus. Photo by Efren Bonner.

Year after year, New Haven bars feature NFL and college football games. Staff reporter Efren Bonner looks for the best places in New Haven to catch a game.

With football season just days away, many Yale students are ready to return to the sports bars to watch their favorite teams.

And much to the detriment of problem sets and papers due on Mondays, the many restaurants within walking distance of Yale are offer everything from cheap beer to endless wings to plasma TVs to lure Elis to watch football games.

“There are plenty of great places to go on the weekends to watch sports games,” said Michael Dunn ’10, a Seattle native. “The reason why is one, it’s nice to do something different and escape from campus a couple times a week.”

An avid Seahawks fan, Dunn said that he goes to local bars — including Lansdowne on Crown Street and Black Bear Saloon on Temple Street — to follow his team, since their games are not aired on local channels in the region.

Southeast of campus is home to many such bars. A quick walk down Chapel Street to Temple Street will take Yalies to The Playwright, an Irish pub and restaurant.

Although football season does not start until Thursday, Yale students have already visited the pub this year.

“We definitely see a lot of Yale students during the week,” said Alicia Phillips, a senior at the University of New Haven who waitresses at the Playwright. “They’re here on Tuesday for music, and for happy hours on Friday and Saturday.”

Phillips expects the pub to be the home of many Yale sports fans for this upcoming season, boasting that the restaurant’s $8 domestic pitchers and specials on wings are always a big draw for Yale students, not to mention the Playwright is the closest of all the bars in the area, a plus for the athletically challenged like myself.

Next to the Playwright sits Black Bear Saloon, on the corner of Temple and Crown streets. Although it is the same size as the Irish pub next door, it is feels like a casual, modern sports bar.

Like the Playwright, Black Bear also offers $8 dollar pitchers of beer. But what distinguishes this bar is that it has a DirectTV NFL Package, allowing patrons to watch any game on Sundays.

“For someone like me who comes from thousands of miles away, it’s nice to follow the hometown and get a slice of home for a couple hours,” Dunn said.

Finally, one block farther east on Church Street is Buffalo Wild Wings. The wings chain opened its New Haven location only years ago, but it has already made inroads with many Elis, bar manager Dan Craft said.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in Yale students in the past year,” Craft said. “And that number will probably surge once football season starts.”

Buffalo Wild Wings houses 30 plasma TVs scattered around the restaurant including eight behind the bar, allowing the football faithful to watch every game without turning their heads.

“Wings, beer and sports. That’s our motto,” Craft said.

Craft also said that Saturdays are also big for college football fanatics. In particular, many University of Michigan fans in the local area visit on Saturdays to watch their alma mater.

But regardless of where Yale students go out for this football season, they will surely be welcome at all three of the restaurants.

Another new sports bar and grill in the Yale area is Lansdowne, popular among graduate students. The Irish pub has been open for just over a year, and although turnout was low last year, the bar is expecting a larger turnout this year, general manager Tom McDaniels said.

Although Lansdowne has a slightly more expensive menu than other restaurants in the area, the bar prides itself on having a great atmosphere and tasty grub, McDaniels said.

Moreover, the Lansdowne will host two WYBC shows every Monday before Monday Night Football. Dunn will host his radio show from 7-8 p.m., followed by Yale Sports Monday, which hosts the football team and one other Yale sports team in the next hour. The women’s volleyball team will be the guest Bulldogs this Monday.

And of course, for all of those sports fans who like futbol, Anna Liffey’s is the best place to watch an English Premier League game at the crack of dawn.

But for the football faithful, regardless of where you go to watch the game, you are sure to enter a welcoming sports atmosphere dedicated to you, the fan.

“We’re expecting great things this year,” Craft, the manager of Buffalo Wild Wings, said. “Whoever comes in this season is bound to have a great time.”

Comments

  • Goldie ’08

    wings beer and football is a pretty good motto if you ask me

  • Motto

    Or “We Love Yale Salts”! You know, for the onion rings and such.