Football boosts 161st Street businesses

The Notre Dame football team may have won the game on Saturday, November, 20, but it was the Bronx businesses that truly walked away from the day victorious.

Although the game between Notre Dame and Army began at 7 p.m., football fans packed the bars and restaurants along 161st Street and River Avenue from morning until night.

“It was awesome,” said Jasmin Rodriguez, a bartender and waitress at Billy’s Sports Bar and Restaurant. “It was beyond busy. You couldn’t even walk into this place.”

The staff at Billy’s actually had to stop service for a few minutes because there were so many people the wait staff had a hard time getting from the kitchen to the tables.

“It took five minute to get to a restroom,” Rodriguez said. “It was the perfect crowd. Now we’re excited for the next game.”

On the other side of River Avenue, Yankee’s Tavern also felt the football frenzy.

“It was a great crowd. Lots of fun and no fights,” said assistant manager Whitey McGee. “Everybody was excited to have the game. It was the best thing we’ve had in a long time.”

Cary Goodman, president of the 161 Street Business Improvement District, said the boost to business was more than he expected.

“It was the equivalent of having a World Series game,” he said. “The crowd was on the sidewalk and in the shops. It went on the whole day and everybody involved made tons of money.”

About 45,000 people come to a regular baseball game, Goodman said, but on Saturday, 54,000 football fans filled the stadium.

“It was the biggest crowd I’ve seen at any event in the new stadium,” he said.

The only sector of business in the area that did not feel the bump were the merchandise shops that only sold Yankees gear. However, several enterprising business people took advantage of the service gap, Goodman said.

“Someone sublet about 200 feet of store front and sold pajama pants, for Notre Dame. They did so well they had about a dozen employees for the day,” he said, “All those guys selling T-shirts, they sold out in a few hours.”

The next college football game to be held in Yankee Stadium will be the Pin Stripe Bowl on December, 30. The teams will not be known until December 5.

Although few college football teams can draw fans to their games all across the country, like Notre Dame and Army can, Goodman is confident more college ball for the stadium will always be good for business.

“Even if it’s hockey, which there has been some talk about bringing to the stadium, that would be great,” he said. “I really have to commend the Yankees for trying to make this a year-round stadium.”

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