By Laura Orella and Vera H-C Chan
They look so unassuming from the outside–just drab-colored buildings with neon beer signs flashing in the windows.
But step inside a sports bar and watch a whole other world come to life. A world where the ball is worshipped and the TV screen gets the most attention.
That will especially be the case Sunday afternoon, when the 49ers and Green Bay Packers tangle for the NFC championship.
But what makes a sports bar the place to go? What is it that compels the regulars to get up out of their cozy recliners for several hours every week to watch some type of ball move about an arena?
“It seems the more packed the place is, the more people want to jam in here to see what’s going on, ” said Trish Skinner, a waitress at Antioch’s All Star Sports Bar and Grill. “They want to see what’s so exciting and in a sports bar, there is always something exciting going on.”
But to many, it’s not that their favorite team is playing that moves them, but the players in the bar itself.
“I like to be around people who like the same team as me because many of them know more about the plays and players and it makes for a more knowledgeable event all around, ” said Randy Miller, a Pittsburg 49ers fan. “I get to enjoy the games, learn a thing or two and be in the company of friends.”
Come Sunday, longtime and newly made friends will be either crying or cheering, depending on what happens on the field. If this kind of gridiron camaraderie appeals to you, here are some East Bay sports bars where folks are sure to be gathered for the big game. We’ve included some of the vital statistics (such as how big the TV screens are, though the figures are estimates in some cases).
East Contra Costa County:
- Allstar Sports Bar and Grill, 2521 San Jose Dr., Antioch, 778-9282: 12 19-inch TVs, three 25-inch to 30-inch screens. Food and beer specials.
- Boat House Lounge and Restaurant, 6210 Bethel Island Road, Bethel Island, 684-2702: Three 27-inch screens, one 52-inch.
- Broken Wheel Cocktail Lounge, 5620 Main St., Oakley, 625-1685: Four 19-inch screens.
- Byron Station Wild Idol Saloon, 3980 Main St., Byron, 634-7205: Four 20-inch to 25-inch screens, free homemade chili-bean dip and corn bread.
Central Country Costa County:
- Artie’s Countrywood Lounge, 2068 Treat Blvd. inside the Countrywood Shopping Center, Walnut Creek, 934-5662: One 54-inch, one 32-inch and three 27-inch screens. Free hot dogs.
- Black Angus Restaurant Stuart Anderson’s, 3195 N. Main St., Pleasant Hill, 938-9000: 10 27-inch screens, one 11-foot by 8-foot movie screen.
- Chili’s Grill and Bar, 1501 Concord Ave., Concord, 676-4062: Three 26-inch screens. Standard Happy Hour menu from 12 to 5 p.m.
- Crogan’s Bar and Grill, 1387 Locust St., Walnut Creek, 933-7800: Four screens between 22 and 24 inches. Drink and food specials.
- Killarney House Bar, 3335 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 284-1102: Three 26-inch, one 19-inch and one 20-inch screen.
- Legends and Heroes Sports Bar and Grill, 4050 Port Chicago Highway, Concord, 687-4111: 35 25-inch and three 5-foot screens. Beer and drink specials.
- Magoo’s Grill and Bar, 1250 Contra Costa Blvd., Pleasant Hill, 682-4868: One 13-inch, two 20-inch, two 36-inch and one 60-inch screen. Raffle and free food with drink purchases.
- Oscar’s Lounge, 709 Ferry St., Martinez, 229-4755: Three 25-inch screens.
- Stadium Pub, 1420 Lincoln Ave., Walnut Creek, 256-7302: 17 27- to 35-inch, one 52-inch and one 60-inch screen. Beer, drink and food specials.
- The Round Up, 3553 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, 284-4817: Three 25-inch, one 54-inch screens. Bloody Marys, $2.
West Contra Costa County:
- Carousal Cocktail Lounge, 226 44th St., Richmond, 233-5801: Two 25-inch screens. Free spaghetti, salads, garlic bread, meatballs, deviled eggs and pies.
- Jerry’s Cocktail Lounge, 13021 San Pablo Ave., San Pablo, 232-6336: One 13-inch, one 19-inch and one 50-inch screens. Food specials.
- San Ramon Valley
- Brass Door, 2154 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, 837-2501: Six 27-inch screens. Prime rib sandwich or steak sandwich for $9.95.
- Buckley’s, 335 Hartz Ave., Danville, 831-6187: Two 27-inch screens, free snacks.
- Beeb’s Sports Bar and Grill. 915 Club House, Livermore, 455-7070: 30 25-inch, one 45-inch, two 60-inch screens.
- Sunshine Saloon, 1807 Santa Rita Rd., Pleasanton, 846-6108: Twelve 27-inch screens, two 8-foot screens. Menu specials, beer specials, DJ music, door prizes, 75 cent kamikazes for every touchdown by either team.
This story originally appeared in the Contra Costa Times