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Breweries, bars and restaurants feeling the effects from lack of sporting events

Posted at 9:55 AM, Feb 05, 2021

Empower Field at Mile High in Denver is a stadium that can hold more than 76,000 fans. In the area around it on any given game day, there are thousands more. But due to the pandemic, this year has been a little different. Not only for the stadium, but for neighborhood breweries like Little Machine Beer.

"This year has been very stressful, very sad," said Kris Williams.

Williams is one of the owners of the brewery that sits just a couple football fields away from the home of the Denver Broncos.

"Broncos games are some of our funnest games of the year, typically. It’s a great atmosphere," said Williams.

But this year, it’s been quiet to say the least.

"It’s been a stark contrast to what it normally is. The first few games early on in the season, when there was very limited attendance, we did see a little bit of business, but nowhere near what we would normally see," said Williams.

She says revenue for this year is down 20-25% from last year, in a state where many restaurants, bars and breweries are still at 25% indoor capacity.

But even in states that no longer have capacity restrictions, like Florida, bars like Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill have seen a drop in revenue.

"We were down about a million and a half last year, but it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be," said Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg's.

He says it’s about 15%. Ferg’s sits right across the street from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida where the Tampa Bay Rays play.

"Slowly, we opened up, but with no sports, it’s really hard to have a sports bar with no sports," said Ferguson.

He says he used the time he was shut down to make some changes.

"We took the stance, let’s make the place better when we do reopen. Let’s make it cleaner, safer and more efficient. And we have done that," said Ferguson.

Williams, in Denver, has had to make some changes too, especially because of the capacity limits still in place. The parking lot that would normally be either sold or rented out on game days, now holds a patio for more outdoor seating.

"Having our business located so close to the Broncos stadium, it’s more than just the revenue we see from that, right? It all trickles down to the employees, to the neighborhood, to how much improvements we can make in this area," said Williams.

And she hopes that next season is going to be different.

"We’re very hopeful that we’ll be able to recover over this next year, hopefully, as things stabilize a little bit with COVID," said Williams.