Sometimes, when choosing a venue from which to take in a sporting event, it is important branch out from your comfort zone and try something that is unfamiliar. And sometimes it is important to do the exact opposite of that and keep your thinking firmly within the box.
With the latter sentiment in mind I decided to watch last month’s Nebraska-Northwestern game from the comfort of a sports bar that I have probably gone to two dozen times.
Buffalo Wild Wings, while a little on the corporate side, is a place where the service and product are dependable, the televisions are abundant, and the crowd is a sure thing.
I think most people are probably familiar with their sixteen varieties of chicken wings, the spiciest of which at one time came with a free t-shirt, and the many different kinds of beer they have on tap, so that won’t be my focus here.
The focus of this column, the thing that has kept me coming back to BWWs in regular intervals for the whole of my adult life, is the atmosphere of the place.
Watching a football game at Buffalo Wild Wings is one of the precious few things in life that is just as much fun as it looks on television, at least in my experience. While the establishment’s ability to send games into overtime by doing things like controlling the weather or using the sprinkler system to attack the kickers might be a touch exaggerated in the commercials, the energy and enthusiasm is more or less true to form.
My experience there three weeks ago was honestly pretty par for the course when it comes to watching a Husker game in Lincoln, Nebraska. I’m pretty sure I could watch a Nebraska game on a ten-inch hand-held in the middle of a rain storm and not have a problem getting people to watch the game with me.
My best experience at BWWs actually came last January during the NFL Playoffs.
I’m a San Francisco 49ers fan and, as most football fans will remember, the Niners played the Seattle Seahawks for last season’s NFC Championship. Far from being the only person there who even remotely cared about that game—which was my honest expectation—there was a healthy contingency of supporters for both sides who were more than just casual onlookers who decided to root for a team once they got there. Several people were wearing red and gold jerseys while others adorned the acid rain and highlighter that you wear if you support Voldemort…I mean the Seahawks.
My verdict is that if you are an NFL fan living in Lincoln—my most sincere condolences to you if you are, I know how lonely that can be—and you’re looking for a place to watch your favorite team, BWWs might be the place for you. It has a broad enough reach that there is usually a good turnout for prime time or playoff games even when the fan base is a little bit more marginalized.
This is to say that while there may not be enough 49ers fans in Lincoln to fill Memorial Stadium, there are certainly enough to fill Buffalo Wild Wings. Which is important, because losing to the Seahawks is something no one should have to do alone.