Volume 17 • Issue 35 • Jan. 21 - 27, 2005

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Visitors to Tribeca’s Sporting Club bar examined the merchandise before a public auction Wednesday.

The Sporting Club goes down to defeat

By Divya Watal

The final remnants of the Sporting Club, a boisterous Tribeca sports bar that rocked the neighborhood for over two decades, were sold off at a final, public auction Wednesday.

The bar, located at 99 Hudson St., was a spacious joint with giant television sets adorning the walls, pool tables flanking the bar, and enough beer, Buffalo wings and potato skins to keep after-work sports fans happy.

On Wednesday, it seemed as if someone had wiped off its makeup and stripped it naked. Everything in the bar of any value — speakers, televisions, sofas, projectors, and even glasses, plates, pots, pans and stools — was up for the highest bidders’ taking.

The auction largely attracted Manhattan bar and restaurant owners who were looking to garner furniture and electronics at bargain prices for their own establishments. However, there were a few community members as well, on the prowl for cheap household goods.

“My kids wanted a flat screen TV — that’s why I’m here,” said Lucy Cabriero, a Tribeca resident who saw an advertisement for the auction in the New York Times and decided to drop by.

“We used to hang out here [at the Sporting Club]. It was a fun place, especially when there was a sports event,” said Louis Atilano, who was accompanying Cabriero. “It used to attract the in crowd — the young and hip. But that was in the early ’90s.”

In the last decade, the Sporting Club fell into the hands of several owners, who did nothing to improve the joint and let it gradually deteriorate, Atilano added. “Look at the décor of this place — it’s from the early ’90s,” he said, pointing to the wine-red, dusty velvet drapes limply covering the windows.

At one point in its glorious past, the Sporting Club occupied the coveted spot of “second best sports bar in the nation,” as ranked by USA Today. It was also the official game-watching home of Minnesota Gophers’ fans in New York, among other sports enthusiast groups.

“It was one of the best sports bars in the city,” said Peter Smith, owner of a Midtown restaurant and bar, who was at the auction looking for cheap furniture and odd bits and pieces. “It went downhill after Sept. 11th though, and never really recovered.”

Somewhere along the more than 20-year road, perhaps even before the terrorist attacks, business at the upscale lounge went sour, and the umpteen television screens could do nothing to help.

Stephen Rogers and Larry Furtzaig reportedly were the most recent owners. Attempts to reach them were unsuccessful. The owners were having “money problems” and simply disappeared one day, according to a worker at the neighboring Socrates restaurant.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if they [the landlords] shut this place down,” said Mark, who declined to give his last name, the owner of a lounge in Midtown Manhattan. He, like other bidders, was scavenging on the bar’s remains. Auctions like these happen almost everyday — there is always a bar or a restaurant shutting down, he explained, and the same bidders surface to see what they can gather.

“I go to these [auctions] every week. You can get good bargains if you bide your time,” said another bidder, Mick O’Sullivan, who owns The Full Shilling, an Irish bar on Pearl St. He was looking for equipment for a new bar he is opening. “Most of this stuff is [crap], but sometimes you get the things you want,” he said.

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