There is a huge opportunity for the Bat and Ball in Stratford to become one of the leading venues to watch American Football on Sunday’s in London.
The bar, over the last 18 months, has attempted to corner the market and stamp their authority on the sport, including a partnership with the UK Jaguars.
However, they still have a long way to go and are years behind other establishments, namely the Hippodrome casino in Leicester Square.
I have a personal interest in this, I live near Stratford so for me, watching games here instead of the Hippodrome is far more convenient.
But on a wider scale, I want what’s best for UK NFL fans.
Gamepass Europe is a shambles and many don’t enjoy Sky Sports’ coverage of the game. These people in particular are looking for a place to follow the sport they love surrounded by people who share their passion for the game.
Given how many fans pack pubs on a Sunday for the Premier League, there’s no reason why American Football fans wouldn’t be doing the same.
The Bat and Ball knows this but have been unable to pull in the numbers the Hippodrome does.
I pass the bar every day as I travel to and from work and, on a Sunday, I would love nothing more than to settle down surrounded by NFL fans and watch games.
However, as it stands, I’d much rather go home and watch games by myself of make the journey into central London.
And even now, I will pass it on a Sunday, take a quick look at the scores then continue heading home.
There’s a few simple solutions to get more NFL fans through the doors.
Firstly, they need to be honest and up front about what they are showing.
Want to watch all 10 6pm @NFL games on Sunday? or maybe the 3 games at 9pm? Look no further than our viewing parties @batandballldn! With @NFLGamePassEU we can show any live game across our 12 TVs! Great food, great drink offers and LOADS of NFL action! #DUUUVAL #NFLUK #NFL pic.twitter.com/2RNjWO1aST
— Jaguars UK (@JaguarsUK) September 21, 2018
The above tweet isn’t true.
With GamePass they CAN show any live game across their 12 TVs but instead show Red Zone on all 12 TVs.
So if you want to watch your team, you best have GamePass on your phone or settle for highlights.
If you are promising a live game, show the game, not the highlights.
The Hippodrome has multiple screens and rooms, allowing fans to watch the team they support.
The Bat and Ball has the screens to do so, and a few private rooms. Why they continue to stick with Red Zone only is a shame.
I was in the Bat and Ball for Week 2 and brought two friends.
Red Zone was on but you couldn’t hear any commentary because they were choosing to play music.
My company, who have no interest in the NFL, both said this isn’t the right way to go to introduce people to the game or to entice long-serving fans into the bar to watch games.
Week 3 I chose to watch games in the Hippodrome, to compare the two venues.
Granted, I have frequented the casino plenty of times I probably didn’t need to go again but I thought it was only fair.
I’m glad I did, it reminded me how much I love the place.
— Hippodrome Casino (@HippodromeLDN) September 9, 2018
From the moment you arrive, there is someone on the door in an NFL t-shirt.
There are signs outside telling people NFL is shown inside, the Bat and Ball doesn’t.
Once you get upstairs, all the bar staff are in NFL-related attire, be it a T-shirt or jersey.
They have multiple screens showing ACTUAL matches, not red zone – though there is one screen dedicated to the highlight show.
You can hear the commentary and people who are there actually want to watch the sport, not just enjoy a few drinks.
I ended up watching the Dolphins v Raiders game with a Raiders fan from Canada and a Miami fan from Miami.
I asked them how they knew there was NFL shown here and they said they saw the sign outside.
Simple advertising, it works in 2018.
If the Bat and Ball did this, who knows how many fans would just walk in off the street.
This isn’t an article to trash the Stratford-based bar. It’s simply to raise awareness of what it could be.
UK NFL fans in London need, and want, alternative places to watch football on Sunday’s.
The Hippodrome Casino is by far the place to be, but with a few changes here and there, the Bat and Ball in Stratford could soon be the place to be on Sunday evenings.