COVID-19 Restrictions & Outdoor Dining Only Keeping Loyal Fans Home
Sunday mornings and afternoons during fall football season are normally buzzing in San Diego’s Gaslamp.
Fans wearing team jerseys and shirts gather with other transplants at specific venues and there is a buzz one can just feel by waking down Fifth Ave., and other streets.
But there is no buzz now. That’s because there are no fans. The sports bars are deserted. Instead of seeing people file out on the streets after a game, you’re more likely to see tumbleweeds.
It’s a sad sight, seeing so many empty sports bars that are normally crowded with NFL fans on Sunday. And college football alumni on Saturdays.
There are no fans because COVID-19 restrictions are keeping them home. With very limited capacity due to the outdoor-seating-only policy set forth by the county based on the state’s purple tier guidelines, there’s not enough room to accommodate those regular customers.
And with no indoor activity allowed – one of the biggest attractions of fans gathering at sports bars is to be crowded together with fellow fans – it’s simply not as much fun to be there as it is during normal times.
As an alumni of the University of Alabama, I enjoy going to Bootlegger to watch the Tide games. With the fight song playing after touchdowns, “Sweet Home Alabama” and the U of A version of “Dixieland Delight” blasting from the DJ booth and endless “Roll Tide” cheers, it lives up to its nickname of “Tuscaloosa West.”
Now, tho, only about a dozen people go to the games, sitting mostly quietly at the few socially-distanced outdoor tables. It’s so lacking in spirit, I am considering not even going there for the rest of the Bama games.
Normally fully stocked with bartenders, servers and a DJ, Bootlegger now has a crew of just a couple of bartenders, who double as servers, and two waitresses. With way fewer customers, Bootlegger and other bars have had to cut shifts of their staff.
And that is sad.
Just down Market Street at Smoking Gun, the Florida Gators bar – normally packed and lively with an inflatable Gator and sounds of “chomp, chomp” and the Florida fight song spilling out onto the street – is now so devoid of fans and so silent you can hear it it if your cell phone falls out of your pocket onto the sidewalk.
That, too, is sad, as is the whole Saturday and Sunday scene as the Gaslamp sports bars.