Church provides MNF option

kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com

Seven days a week, the room with a few tables and chairs is called Fellowship Hall at Trinity United Methodist Church. For a few hours each Monday, it could also be called football central.

Like they’ve done since 2008, a few people at the church are using the small room to give a different option for the weekly ESPN broadcast, with a 100-inch projection screen to show the game.

“It’s starting to grow a little bit,” church council president Thomas Weingates said early in Monday’s contest between the Dallas Cowboys and Carolina Panthers.

Less than a dozen people showed up at Trinity United on Monday, but Weingates said it was just about creating an option — and taking advantage of a room that wouldn’t have been used during that time anyway.

“The main thing is to get guys together (who don’t want to) go to the bar, and still have a good time,” Weingates said, as he looked over a kitchen spread of chicken wings and green chili stew.

There’s no expectation, Weingates said, that people who want to go to a bar will suddenly stop and show up at the fellowship hall.

“That’s just the way it is,” he said.

For that same reason, bars don’t expect to lose much revenue, if any, from smaller football crowds gathering elsewhere.

Ernestine Starr, an assistant manager at Goober McCool’s in Portales, said the bar can expect about 30 patrons to stick around for an average Monday night football contest — and more, she said, when the Cowboys or Pittsburgh Steelers play.

And on a Tuesday or a non-football Monday? “It’s about half of that,” Starr said.

Those in attendance at the church could bring their laptops to surf the Internet and check fantasy football numbers, and look ahead to the Monday night schedule coming up. Alan Hermon’s voice rose a little when he reminded everybody that next Monday’s game was the game between Brett Favre’s old team (Green Bay Packers) and his current team (Minnesota Vikings).

But most shunned the wireless Internet, and came to watch in high definition every high and low from a pair of squads that had opened the season with inconsistent offenses.

“They can’t buy a victory,” Hermon said with a laugh after Dallas kicker Nick Folk missed a 40-yard field goal — the joke referring to the $1 billion-plus price tag for Dallas’ new stadium.