I didn't get a chance to watch the game against Idaho St. on Thursday. I had a ticket and everything, but unfortunately, I had to work. To make matters worse, I forgot to set my DVR to record the game. So of course that makes it impossible for me to talk about the game. I heard I didn't miss too much. Apparently, the Illini played kind of flat for most of the game, and were fortunate to put on a run in the second half to pull out the game.
Anyhow, I started thinking about how much fun it is to watch games, and how much it sucks to miss them. And then I started thinking about, aside from the Assembly Hall, where is the best "spot" in town to watch a game, if you don't feel like watching from the couch at home? So, here's my thoughts on the best, and the worst, place to watch a game around town here in Champaign:
1. Jillian's: Located on Neil St., and a few blocks south of Kirby, this pool hall/sports bar is the best place to watch sports, period, in Champaign. With a large wall full of "huge screened" televisions, be sure to get there an hour early so that you can ensure seating in the prime viewing area. The bar food is above average. The wait staff is made up of U of I coeds, and they are usually just as much in to the game as the patrons. Two thumbs up on the wait staff, in general. Catch a game of billiards or darts after the game, and bask in the glow of another Illini victory.
Others considered: BW3's (North Prospect), BW3's (Savoy)
Note: Notice how downtown Champaign is conspicuously absent from this short list. When is somebody going to open a decent sports bar there?
1. Billy Barooz: This relatively new restaurant/sport's bar located at the Windsor Crossing in Southwest Champaign is the WORST place to watch a game in all of Champaign. I know this first hand, because I tried to watch the Illini-Rutgers football game there earlier this fall. First of all, we showed up about 15 minutes early for the 11 am kickoff on ESPN, and Billy Barooz wasn't even open yet! Since I was meeting some people, I had to wait around. The staff finally opened the doors at eleven, but they looked at me and a few other fans that were standing there like we were geeks or something. I remember thinking to myself, "yeah, so I'm a sports fan geek, but SO WHAT! I mean, this place should be glad there are people like me, cause I'm their bread and butter on football saturdays." Anyhow, the service went downhill from there. My waitress exuded disgust for my entire table's presence in the bar. She made us feel like we were raining on her normally quiet Saturday morning shift. The food wasn't that great, either, besides being expensive. The only thing Barooz has going for it is the physical space-- it has all the trimmings (big screens, nice bar) to be a great sports bar. But this place has to figure out that sports bars are more than just televisions, chairs, and tables. I wouldn't recommend going here to watch any game, or for any other reason.
Well, that's all for now. Looking forward to watching the Xavier game. Then, it's on to the real season.