Philadelphia bars struggling without thriving sports teams

In 2008, the Phillies were World Series champions, the Eagles won the NFC East, the Flyers were in the Eastern Conference Finals and even the Sixers were in the NBA playoffs. The city was jubilant, confident, and packing bars around town hoping to witness a championship alongside friends and random acquaintances.

Jeffrey Young, customer at Fox & Hound
Jeffrey Young, customer at Fox & Hound

Unfortunately, all good times must come to an end.

“I don’t want to brag, but our business is always good with the sports teams,” said Bob Morrison, general manager of Chickie’s and Pete’s on Packer Avenue. “The Sixers are kind of struggling a little bit, the Flyers are not up to speed and we can definitely see a difference with the fan turnout. There’s definitely a drop-off. If fans don’t believe, they don’t come to the games and if they don’t come to the games, they go somewhere else.”

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Tony Coccerino, bartender at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar

Since the Phillies and Eagles seasons came to an end, Jeffrey Young, a frequent customer at Fox and Hound Bar and Grill on Spruce Street, has also seen more empty seats and barstools at the Center City bar. Despite the decline in customers, Young returns to the bar to grab a few beers to unwind a few times per week.

“The atmosphere is nice, very nice,” Young said. “It’s very nice, comfortable and relaxed in here. I have never seen any problems.”

With the Sixers’ lack of success and Flyers fans patiently awaiting the team to live up to expectations, a few sports bars have survived most recently thanks to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.

“Everyone is always into ice hockey,” said Tony Coccerino, a bartender at Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar in South Philadelphia. “I had five guys here who were here for the whole [USA vs. Czech Republic] game who insisted on watching the hockey game.”

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Bob Morrison, General Manager at Chickie’s and Pete’s

“For hockey, it’s affected us very well,” said Morrison, of Chickie’s and Pete’s. “Obviously, Philadelphia is a hockey town and I think hockey fans are the smartest fans we have here and the most loyal. When USA hockey is doing well, we are doing well.”

With the Winter Olympics coming to a close, many Philadelphia sports bars will remain patient until the Phillies season begins in April and the Eagles kick off in September.

“There’s always optimism with the Phillies,” Morrison said. “With the Eagles, we saw with the Wild Card game and with the Dallas game especially, we were as busy for those games than any game we’ve ever had. The Eagles Super Bowl run in 2004, the Phillies in 2008, so it’s pretty positive when fans believe, because they will be here and they’ll come out. Once the Phillies and Eagles get rolling again, we should be good.”

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