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Sports bars connect fans with famed


Walter Peyton greets a fan during a visit to the Roger Craig Sports Bar on board the Lady Luck Casino in Bettendorf.

Sports bars bring the big games to the masses. The Roger Craig Sports Bar, on board the Lady Luck Casino, brings those games to life.

Sports bars like Sports Fans Pizza in Bettendorf, and Halftime and Rookies in Davenport, let fans keep tabs on favorite teams and athletes with satellite television and TVs in every nook and cranny. If the wrong team loses, patrons do not have to go far to cry into their drinks.

Not everyone cheers for the Denver Broncos, Washington Wizards or University of Kansas Jayhawks, but sports bars create a community for their fans, especially if their teams reach the Super Bowl, NBA Finals or the NCAA Final Four.

At the Roger Craig Sports Bar -- named for the San Francisco 49er star from Davenport -- the athletes who played in those big games come off the television and on board the boat. Since opening the first riverboat casino sports bar more than two years ago, the boat and bar's marketing muscle has brought famous, hall-of-fame-caliber athletes and coaches to the Quad-Cities.

Walter Payton recently appeared on board as long lines waited for a glimpse with the man known as ``Sweetness.'' Recently on Super Bowl Sunday, Pittsburgh Steeler legend Franco Harris was there for a meet-and-greet opportunity with local fans.

Plenty of gridiron greats have visited. Dan Fouts, Y.A. Tittle, Kenny Stabler, Johnny Unitas, Len Dawson, Jim Taylor and Earl Campbell have entertained good-sized crowds.

Though it offers football memorabilia from Mr. Craig's collection and part of the establishment is decorated like a football field, Football stars are not the only ones on the roster of legendary athletes who have stopped by.

Baseball stars Ryne Sandberg, Willie Stargell, Ernie Banks, Steve Carlton, Bob Gibson and Fergie Jenkins have met Quad-Cities fans. Rick Barry and George Gervin are a pair of basketball greats who stopped in.

Red-hot hockey has been represented, too, by Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita. Coaching legends Ray Meyer and Al McGuire have greeted Quad-Citians and Indianapolis 500 legend Johnny Rutherford made a pitstop at the watering hole as well.

Legends of athletics are not the only ones to stop at the Lady Luck. Legendary bands of yesteryear have played there, too, including Eddie Rabbitt, Chubby Checker, Sha Na Na, The Guess Who, Kool & The Gang, The Captain and Tennille, Cheap Trick and Rare Earth.

-- By Kurt Allemeier (February 9, 1998)

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