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Sports bars promise return when MLB opens

Foley's NY

There are more folks watching MLB baseball games in sports bars across the country than cheering on their faves in ballparks, but even with the twin whammy of no games and no patrons ordering a beer and a burger, proprietors of well-known establishments across the country say they’ll be back after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

There’s really no rhyme or reason as to where the best sports bars are located; sometimes they’re near the ballpark, and sometimes they’re not. (We’re been tabulating the best sports bars in every MLB market for our upcoming The Complete Guide to Major League Ballparks; subscribe to the August Publications newsletter to keep track of this title and other August Publications publications.) But they are definitely an essential part of the baseball culture.

In New York City, the mandatory stop for any sports fan — or sports executive, to be honest — is Foley’s, located in midtown Manhattan. Foley’s welcomes all, with fans of all stripes showing up for a Penguins or March Madness or Yankees or Mets game broadcast. But Foley’s closed on March 16, a prime time in the sporting calendar, per the New York Daily News:

Nobody appeared this year, in the bar or on the field. COVID-19 canceled the NCAA tournament, along with the Mets’ Citi Field opener against the World Champion Washington Nationals. And Foley’s, like the rest of the countless sports bars across the five boroughs, closed its doors on March 16 as its owner waits nervously for “Reopening Day” …. if that ever comes this season.

He’s not alone. Joe Bastone, owner of the venerable Yankee Tavern in the Bronx, estimated the April 2 loss of opening day at Yankee Stadium cost him a week’s worth of typical baseball season income.

“I’m a little numb when I think about it, so I try not to think about it,” said Bastone, 65, who worked as a 9-year-old tavern bus boy back in grammar school. “If I do think about it, I’m only going to get hugely depressed. It’s a ghost town up here.”

We are seeing that scenario playing out across the country.

Photo courtesy Foley’s.

With hourly news about the spread of the coronavirus impacting the sports-business and facilities industries, it’s more important than ever to stay up with the latest news in the venues industry. That’s why we’ve launched a new Venues Digest newsletter focusing on coronavirus information across the ballparks, arenas, stadiums, theater and performing-arts worlds. For now it will appear daily, and for now it will be free of charge to industry professionals. Sign up here.

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