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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Will *Any* Sports Bars In San Francisco Be Showing Tonight's United Football League Opener Between S.F. and Vegas? Apparently Not.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 8, 2009 at 12:30 PM

click to enlarge San Francisco sports bars have turned their backs on the California Redwoods
  • San Francisco sports bars have turned their backs on the California Redwoods
We've talked about the United Football League's business plan, personnel, and ghastly, ghastly uniforms. But with tonight's debut game between the hometown California Redwoods and the host Las Vegas Locomotives, we'll finally get to see whether the UFL can produce watchable football.

Actually, that all depends on your definition of the word "see." Because if you're hoping to catch the 6 p.m. kickoff at any local sports bar, you're out of luck.

SF Weekly called more than a dozen San Francisco watering holes to see if any of them planned on showing tonight's game. Not a single one did. And it's not snobbery over expansion football teams wearing fluorescent uniforms or scheduling conflicts with tonight's Major League Baseball playoffs that'll keep the Redwoods-Locos game off San Francisco sports bars' dazzling array of televisions. Unfortunately, the UFL games are broadcast on a TV channel no sports bar in the city gets.

The UFL has a deal with the Comcast-owned channel Versus -- which also shows National Hockey League games and a smattering of college football broadcasts. Comcast and Direct TV are currently engaged in an extended contractual staring contest regarding Versus and, as a result, the channel has gone dark on Direct TV subscribers' sets.

"I tried to turn on Versus for hockey the other day," said Brian Schroeder of Pete's Tavern. "They had a big notice on there why they're no longer on Direct TV."

All of the sports bars SF Weekly contacted had Direct TV, and none of the bartenders or bar owners knew of a sports bar in the city that had Comcast -- meaning none will show tonight's UFL game. Arnold Prien of The Final Final notes that San Jose Sharks fans wandered into his bar only to learn that the networks' high-stakes battle meant they couldn't watch the hockey team's recent season opener on Versus.

Fans dead set on watching tonight's UFL game may have to visit a smaller bar with only a single television or two and Comcast service -- and then persuade the bartender to switch away from the baseball playoffs. Good luck with that.

No, it seems the only place you may watch tonight's debut game is your own home. If you have Comcast. Grab a six-pack and a bag of pretzels and make an evening of it.

Update, 2:59 p.m.: Robin Zimmerman, a spokesperson for DISH network, dropped a line to inform us that there are three watering holes in the city that carry DISH -- and, therefore get Versus: California Pizza Kitchen on Van Ness, the Cheesecake Factory on Geary, and Kezar Pub on Stanyan.

Only the latter is a sports bar. We called over to Stanyan and the bartender told us they get DISH and Direct TV. On the other hand, the bar had no plans to show tonight's UFL game (so our headline is still accurate). But if a vocal group of UFL supporters attended the bar and ask nicely, Kezar's staff said they'd change the channel.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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