The Crystal City Sports Pub has always been one of the area's best places to watch college sports, but the bar's latest addition has taken it to a new level.
This summer, the pub unveiled its third floor, and the cramped bars downstairs don't prepare you for the soaring 27-foot ceilings, lengthy bar and vast seating area.
The expansive space means there's plenty of room for a 10-foot high-definition projection screen, flanked by two 100-inch projection screens. Surrounding them are a pair of 12-foot tickers, like those you might find on Wall Street, and two huge digital message boards, all of which quickly cycle through football and baseball scores from around the country, lists of daily food specials, the current odds on teams winning the World Series or Stanley Cup (for "entertainment purposes only," the ticker says) and even trivia: It apparently takes 3,000 cows to supply the NFL with enough footballs for a season.
Underneath this dizzying array of technology is a row of 10 42-inch flat-screen TVs, and every other wall has between six and nine TVs. When seven or eight games are showing at once, as is the case most weekends, it can be hard to concentrate on what you're watching.
"We made a decision five years ago that it was in our best interest to buy the property and build up," says John Finlay, one of the pub's four owners. After visiting about a dozen bars and restaurants in Las Vegas, the partners hatched a plan for a state-of-the art sports bar. Red tape and construction meant that it took almost four years to get the third floor open, but now it's packed with sports fans on weekends and country music fans on Wednesday nights, when the Wil Gravatt Band knocks out songs by the likes of Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.
It's not just the new addition that looks fresh and clean: Data screens and new plasma TVs are spread throughout the other two floors and the sidewalk patio, and the second-story deck got a makeover. There are now nearly 100 TVs throughout the building.
Expansion made room for two major alumni groups calling the pub home this season: the University of Southern California, which moved from Bailey's in Ballston, and Texas A&M, formerly of the Grand Hyatt hotel's Grand Slam Sports Bar. There are usually eight to 12 game-watching parties organized by alumni groups every weekend, including Georgia, Auburn and Clemson universities, though hundreds of other football fans just wander in wearing Virginia, Michigan or Ohio State apparel and find like-minded fans. (Signs under every TV list what will be on that screen for the day.)
-- Fritz Hahn (September 21, 2007)