‘Hesitantly exciting’: Regent St. business prepares for possible return of fall Badger games

MADISON, Wis. – When the pandemic is the key player, forming a game-plan isn’t easy.

“It’s been tough,” said Lucas Simon-Wambach, general manager at Sconnie Bar on Regent St. “There’s been a lot of ups and downs. We kind of have to roll with the punches.”

Simon-Wambach wasn’t surprised when the Big Ten cancelled fall sports, meaning they’d take a major loss on Badger game days. Under the same ownership, Jordan’s Big Ten Pub across the street usually counts on being busy the six or seven home games each fall, as well. In a typical year, each home football game provides about $16 million in total economic impact to the state’s economy, according to a report from last year.

“Those are definitely our top days here at Sconnie Bar,” he said.

Now, he’s hearing talk that the conference is reversing course. Chancellors and presidents from Big Ten universities have voted in favor of playing football this fall, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel sports reporter Jeff Potrykus.

We may have fall Badger game days after all, even if things look pretty different. What do you think?

Posted by Madalyn O’Neill on Tuesday, September 15, 2020

“It’s hesitantly exciting,” Simon-Wambach. “I know that even if there is a football season, it’s going to look very different than a normal one.”


With a usually packed bar on game days, Simon-Wambach said regulations like the capacity limit mean this season would be uncharted territory.

“Hopefully we’d be able to have at least 25% in like we have now able to be seated inside watching the game. We’d definitely be doing some outdoor seating. It’d be interesting to see in the Wisconsin winter how that would go,” he said, adding that the best case scenario would be bringing in a quarter of usual profits on game days. “We’re trying to just take whatever it is and make the best of it.”

Because of potential fan behavior, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said holding football games isn’t a wise play.

“We’re not in a situation where it’s acceptable to have tailgating parties or really parties of any sort,” Rhodes-Conway said. “We love our football, but our health is more important.”

Sconnie Bar will play by the book when it comes to health regulations, according to Simon-Wambach, who said he’s holding out hope.

“That’d be huge for businesses in the area to even be able to have the games on TV if fans aren’t in the stadium and be able to kind of rejuvenate after this tough time,” he said.