From left, Jed Smith, Whit Divilbiss and Jimi Martling watch the K-State vs Butler basketball game on Saturday, March 27, 2010 at Legends Sports Bar and Grill. (photo by Jeff Cooper/ Salina Journal) | Buy Journal Photos

A dreary Saturday

By MICHAEL STRAND Salina Journal

Anyone thinking the streets of Salina would be left to the tumbleweeds Saturday afternoon — when everyone would be watching Kansas State University in its NCAA Elite Eight basketball game against Butler University — well, they were wrong.

Store parking lots around town looked to have a pretty typical number of cars, and business was pretty normal at sports bars.

At Legends, inside the Quality Inn at Interstate Highway 135 and Crawford, the eight TVs over the bar were being watched by some, while only a handful were in the back room with its two projection screens.

“Thursday was pretty crazy,” said bartender Ben Pickering, referring to K-State’s last-minute win over Xavier in double-overtime.

But the crowd during Saturday’s game was actually smaller than usual for a Saturday afternoon.

“Maybe it’s the weather,” Pickering said.

And at the Pizza Hut at 2935 S. Ninth — with four big-screen TVs installed just after the Super Bowl — just one table was occupied in the middle of the game’s first period.

“There was no 3:30 rush,” said Pizza Hut area coach Jen Osner. “We had a few deliveries, a few carry-outs, but nothing big.”

“We thought we’d have more business than this, especially deliveries,” said restaurant general manager Cathleen DuVarney.

But the weather wasn’t hurting attendance at the Dickinson Theaters at Central Mall, said manager Andrew Thimgan.

“Actually, we’ve been pretty busy,” he said, shortly after the second round of afternoon matinees had started.

With heavily-promoted movies such as “Hot Tub Time Machine” and the 3-D film “How to Train Your Dragon” having just opened, he hadn’t been worried about playing to empty seats.

In fact, he said, ” ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ almost sold out all afternoon, maybe 15 empty seats.”

n Reporter Mike Strand can be reached at 822-1418 or by e-mail at [email protected].

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