Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

District Suspends Local Bar’s License

District Suspends Local Bar’s License

Police, Community Describe Sports Fans’ Troubling Past

By Jeff DeMartino Hoya Staff Writer

In Sports Fans bar, a former bouncer said, fights sometimes started on the dance floor, which was enclosed by the ropes of a boxing ring.

“I saw guys coming off the dance floor with bloody noses,” said the onetime bouncer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “All of a sudden they would be popped. They wouldn’t know who hit them.”

A former bartender who also asked not to be identified said there were “guys fighting over girls, girls fighting over guys. It was outrageous.” He estimated at least three or four fights at the 3287 M Street bar every night he worked.

“If [male customers] weren’t looking for girls they were looking to fight,” the former bouncer said.

Sports Fans received perhaps its biggest black eye, however, after a fatal shooting outside the bar Nov. 9. In the wake of the fatality, the District’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board revoked Sports Fans’ liquor license temporarily Nov. 23.

Bernard Bryant Jr., 20, was charged with first degree murder in the shooting death of Tyreen Jay Chaney, 19, of Springfield, Va.

Both the victim and the alleged shooter were in Sports Fans the night of the shooting, according to Metro Police Lt. Patrick Burke, although police still do not know if either had been drinking alcohol.

In the past nine months, Burke said, Metro police have received 20 calls related to assaults, disorderly fights or disruptive behavior at Sports Fans. Officers also have made 26 arrests inside of the bar, 17 of which were for underage drinking.

“It’s fairly irrefutable that they’re serving underage people,” said Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Art Schultz, who runs the commission’s ABC committee.

While one past bartender said he thought the bartenders were “really strict” on checking identification, and one patron said that Sports Fans employees were “pretty hard on IDs,” the former bouncer said that his own door policy was somewhat lax.

“We weren’t real strict about making sure they were 21,” he said. While he said that management never pressured him to let those with false or altered driver’s licenses drink, he said that some of the more senior Sports Fans employees told him to give bracelets to customers as long as their drivers’ licenses were not egregiously false. The bouncer estimated that he would let in 25-50 patrons with questionable IDs every evening he worked, depending on the crowd.

Sports Fans owner Charles Swan was unavailable for comment.

Burke said he did not put the bulk of the underage drinking blame on the bar’s employees. Instead he pointed to Sports Fans’ 18-and-over policy, even though the bar identifies its drinking patrons by giving them bracelets.

“If a bar is packed and you can get access to alcohol, you’re going to get alcohol … It’s impossible to monitor,” Burke said.

The former bartender said that he thought under-21 customers obtained alcohol by having their of-age friends sneak drinks back from the bar.

The onetime bartender said that while Sports Fans “used to be primarily college students,” it lost its university feel last year when a seedier crowd started frequenting the bar. And despite the fact that Sports Fans lies only blocks from campus, the bar is not popular among Georgetown students.

“Everybody I know who’s been there once would never go back,” said Dominique Burzacchi (MSB ’00).

Occasional patrons were also critical of the bar.

“It’s heinous. I think you know that when you go in,” said Tara Regan (MSB ’00), who said she visited Sports Fans about five times last academic year. She said that most of the Georgetown patrons were only at the bar for the drink specials.

Burke, who said that disorderly fights near Sports Fans are frequent, added that the police “haven’t had any issues [in the Sports Fans vicinity] late night” since Sports Fans closed. He said that it is still too early to tell if the crime drop can be linked to the bar’s shutdown.

Residential neighbors of Sports Fans complained about disturbances they related to the bar. Matt Gaertner (COL ’00), a former HOYA Managing Editor who lives around the corner from the bar, said he saw about six Sports Fans customers throw a trash bag full of beer bottles into the street, spilling broken glass in the path of oncoming cars. In another instance, Gaertner said a male in a group of people leaving the bar started pounding on his 33rd Street window while he was preparing for bed.

Catherine Hyland (COL ’00), who lives on 33rd Street near Sports Fans, said that the neighborhood has “been a lot quieter” since the bar shut down.

Some Sports Fans neighbors said that noise coming from the bar, which often has a waiting line running down the block, is loudest Sunday and Monday night.

Sunday night is “Ladies Night” at the bar, according to the Sports Fans voice mailbox. “Ladies get in free and drink free,” the message advertises. Male patrons must pay a $10 cover charge for free draft beers and rail drinks. On Monday drinks and cover charge are $2 for both men and women. The message also mentioned free draft beer from 8:30-10 p.m on Friday and Saturday.

THE HOYA attempted to leave a phone message at Sports Fans, but the voice mailbox was full, and both doors were locked. White envelopes and several packages from ESPN had built up outside the door. The lights were out, but the bar’s dress code is still readable on a sign in the window. “No Bandanas Can Be Seen … Hats ust Be Worn Strait [sic] … Clothes Must Somewhat Fit,” are some of the provisions.

A Jan. 12 ABC meeting has been scheduled to determine if Sports Fans can renew its liquor license. Schultz said that he and neighborhood activists “intend to reassure the community that it will not reopen.”

Police Cite Spotty Record

By Beth Hanson Hoya Staff Writer

Sports Fans, a popular M Street bar, had its liquor license suspended in the wake of the shooting death of one man and the hospitalization of another in the early hours of Nov. 2.

The temporary revocation of the liquor license was decided at a hearing on Nov. 23. At this meeting, Lt. Patrick Burke of the 2nd District Metropolitan Police and other officers testified.

Burke said that the bar has been a site of repeated altercations and arrests over the last year. Over the past nine months, etropolitan Police have made 26 arrests inside of Sports Fans; in 17 of these arrests, the suspects were cited for underage drinking. Twenty of the 38 calls to which Metropolitan police have responded at Sports Fans over these past nine months have been for assaults, disorderly fights or disruptive behavior.

Burke said that the Alcoholic Beverage Control board violations have been documented on eight separate occasions. “In an underage drinking initiative last March, 17 arrests were made during a single operation at Sports Fans,” according to Burke.

“It’s not our goal to shut anyone down, said Burke. “We just want them to operate within the law; if we see chronic violations, something has to be done.”

Second District Citizens Advisory Council Chair James Lively said, “If an establishment that serves alcohol is continuously violating laws, appropriate actions need to be taken. If a problem is found, then changes need to be made.”

The victim of the shooting, Tyreen Jay Chancey of Springfield, Virginia, was taken to Georgetown University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after arrival. The shooting took place after an altercation in the bar that night over a woman. The suspect, Bernard Bryant, Jr., of Fort Washington, Md., was charged with murder in the first degree while armed.

Donate to The Hoya

Your donation will support the student journalists of Georgetown University. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The Hoya