COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- As sports bars try to bounce back from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, they face another hurdle -- the reduction of the fall college football season at best, and the elimination of the season at worst.
But the economic impact may not be as bad as you might think.
Greg Howard, of the Colorado Restaurant Association, said he spoke with 20 restaurant operators in the Colorado Springs area Tuesday and none seem to be affected by having fewer or no college games.
"All in all, most restaurants don't depend on college sports," he said. "At least not in our town. Three of the operators I contacted are at sports bars. Except for chains, sports bars are hard to come by in Colorado Springs."
The owner of the Hatch Cover sports bar said the situation has little effect on his business.
"Whether I have games or not doesn't matter because I have limited seating capacity anyway because of the pandemic," he said. "People can't gather at the bar anymore to watch games as they used to. You can't even stand up at your table to cheer unless you have a mask on. The pandemic has taken the fun out of watching a game at a bar or restaurant."
For those reasons, the owner said he has cancelled his NFL Sunday Ticket subscription, even though the National Football League still intends to conduct its pro football season.
The owner of the Public House sports bar said he's not sure what the impact of a reduced or cancelled college football season will be.
"We get some business from people who want to watch the local teams like Air Force and Colorado State," he said. "But we get more from the NFL, especially on Monday, Thursday and Sunday nights. We haven't decided yet if we'll have NFL Sunday Ticket."
The owner said his sales are around half of what they were before the pandemic.
"All we can do is keep trying to get customers in," he said.
Lua Cartee, an assistant manager at the Tilted Kilt, said that sports bar has a large number of video screens and regular customers who come to watch college football.
"Last season, we opened an hour early on Saturdays to cater to our customers," she said. "So, without college football, we could take a big hit. At least our customers know we also have good food, good drinks and good service."
Several sports bar operators declined to comment for this story, saying that they're waiting to see how much college football, if any, will actually be played this season.
The Mountain West Conference, which includes Air Force and Colorado State, has already announced that it won't play football this fall. This week, the Pac-12 and Big 10 conferences made the same decision. The Big 12, Southeastern and Atlantic Coast conferences are expected to reveal their plans later this week.