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Thirsty Thursday Throwdown

December 6, 2012

by Eddie Kadhim

Every Thursday night there is a battle in the Pine Hills at local bars to bring in a crowd, and keep them coming back. Tonight the Denver Broncos will face off against the Oakland Raiders, a game which could decide the top seed in the AFC, a game that up until mid-September would only have been available on the NFL Network.

“Since cable has started carrying Thursday night football games I would say our profits have been cut in half on Thursday nights…It costs me over $5,000 a season to carry the NFL Network, and now people can just watch the games from home,” said Shane Hely, owner of Professor M. Barley’s on Western Avenue.

In order to carry the NFL Network, a service that does not come standard with direct TV or Time Warner Cable, it costs a household a little more than $5 a month. Since bars like Professor Barley’s draw a large audience, the price is calculated by multiplying the maximum capacity times the cost of the service, Hely said.
The week before Time Warner Cable and the NFL made a deal to show Thursday night games the New York Giants played a then important game against the Carolina Panthers. Local bar owners reflected back on that night, and those who could show the game ended up attracting a significantly larger crowd.

“That Thursday night was brutal; literally no one came out to the bar until the game was over because we don’t have the NFL Network,” said Jack Dempsey, manager at The Stone Crow on Yates Street. Dempsey remembers a very slow day, when Giants fans were not interested in going to a bar where they couldn’t watch their favorite team.

A few blocks down the road at Juniors, a bar under the same management as The Stone Crow, they were showing the Giants game to a packed house.

“There were people standing everywhere, it was probably the busiest we’ve been since we expanded,” said Giles Chance, a manager at Juniors on Madison Avenue who tended bar that day.

Bars like the Stone Crow rely heavily on their drink specials and special events to bring in a mostly young college crowd.

Nate Halliwell, a senior at the University of Albany who lives in the Pine Hills neighborhood said he frequents many of the bars, but now that he can watch Thursday night games from home he doesn’t go to the bars as early on Thursdays.

“I think a lot of the times if my team was on Thursday before I would go to the bar just because I couldn’t watch them at home, but now that I can watch from home and save some money I usually just stay in or go out after the game,” he said.
Dempsey said he was happy when the games got moved to cable because now in the future if the Giants or other local favorites are on again he can carry the game and not have to cough up the extra coin.

Chance and Hely both said that the cost of showing other additional packages such as pay-per-view events at their establishments simply isn’t worth it. Chance said for a regular four-hour Ultimate Fighting Championship event it would cost between $1,000 and $1,500.

Hely said how hard it would be to make his money back on such an event because he would not only have to pay the cost of the event, but also promote the event, and have a packed house just to make his money back.

Chance said that people only have so much food and drink they can ingest, and a lot of the times they will than sit around and not spend any more money.

For Halliwell as long as the drinks are flowing and the promotions are going, he’s a happy man. “I really just love all the promotions around here, you’ve got bing every Wednesday at the Crow, Trivia at the Pub…as long as cable doesn’t take that away I’ll be happy.” -30-

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