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Fans near, far have options to view WVU game

By Whitney Burdette, Capitol reporter
PHOTO BY HOPPY KERCHEVAL General manager Rich Boden is welcoming West Virginia University football fans to Laseter’s as home away from home before the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic.

Some West Virginia University fans may be traveling more than 600 miles for Saturday’s season opener against Alabama, but they’ll find a home away from home when they get there.

Laseter’s Tavern, located at 4355 Cobb Parkway in Atlanta, is home to the WVU Peach State Alumni Chapter and will host a game viewing party Saturday, when the Mountaineers will take on the Crimson Tide at 3:30 p.m. at the Georgia Dome. General manager Rich Boden said it’s fun for the restaurant to get involved in game day festivities, especially because Laseter’s is part of the WVU extended family.

“We’ve been hosting the alumni group for about 15 or 20 years so I’m definitely a big fan,” said Boden, originally from Pittsburgh. “It’s the Chick-fil-A kickoff classic, there’s one every year and a bowl game also. We’re kind of used to it. Laseter’s Tavern is more of a local institution so we don’t get a lot of out of town guests. It’s fun to be a part of it. I’m glad West Virginia is playing in the game because we’re a part of that now.”

Boden said Laseter’s is similar to taverns found in Pittsburgh and Morgantown. The menu features chicken dishes, burgers, salads, sandwiches and wraps, as well as dinners such as steak and pasta.

Then there’s the beer. The list is extensive, featuring dozens of craft beer selections, imports and draught.

“We run beer and liquor specials every day,” Boden said.

Laseter’s hosted a pregame party Thursday for about 250 fans. Boden said that puts the restaurant pretty close to capacity, but he anticipated another 100 or 150 fans will turn out Saturday.

“Of course after the game, since a lot of people are staying at the Waverly Hotel about a mile north of Laseter’s, they have about 200 rooms so we’re expecting them to come down to Laseter’s also,” he said.

Although West Virginia faces a disadvantage on the field Saturday, Boden is confident the team will do well against the multi-time national champions.

“Alabama is a pretty big favorite. It’s gonna be a tough game for West Virginia, very tough,” Boden said. “They have to play the game. Alabama has a new quarterback. I think if West Virginia can rattle him a little and stop the runs, they may have a good shot at an upset.”

For fans sticking a little closer to home, a watch party at Buffalo Wild Wings in Nitro will raise money for a good cause.

Sponsored by the Sugar Bowl Foundation, a nonprofit aimed at raising money for various charities in the Kanawha Valley, the party will feature former WVU star Major Harris and Bo Orlando and a silent auction to raise money for the Childhood Language Center.

“We’ve been doing these for about four or five years with the nonprofit I started a few years back, the Sugar Bowl Foundation,” said Anthony Lewis, the nonprofit’s founder. “I’ll pick out different charities and invite former players. We just rally around the game. It’s free to attend, but we have a silent auction and a raffle and if people want to make a donation and buy pictures of the players for autographs and things, they can.”

The party will begin at 2:30 p.m., so Lewis encourages fans to come early. The restaurant will still be open to the public.

“Even if there is nothing going on at Buffalo Wild Wings, it’s packed for a WVU game,” Lewis said. “You have people who are coming as sponsors who have a reserved table, then people who maybe didn’t sponsor but want to come to the event. They kind of roll the dice and come early to try to get seats. Then you have people coming out anyway, so it kind of creates a bit of a zoo. It’s packed and hard to get in if you don’t get there early or reserve a table.

“Being that it’s the first game of the season and they’re playing Alabama in the middle of the day I’m expecting a huge turnout,” he added.

The Childhood Language Center works with children on the autism spectrum and provides a variety of free speech and language therapy to children in the Charleston area. Lewis said he selected the charity to benefit from Saturday’s event for personal reasons.

“My sister is a autism specialist and educator,” Lewis said. “I have a cousin who has autism and I have a lot of friends with children with autism and Asperger’s. I always wanted to do something, but nothing ever presented itself.”

That changed when Lewis, a photographer for WSAZ, covered a story about the center. He connected with staff and told them he’d work to bring some awareness to the facility through his foundation.

“They gave me a tour of the facility and it’s great, the services they offer are great, the fact they’re free is spectacular,” Lewis said. “I guess I got a little bit of a soft spot in my heart for kids and families that have to battle through Autism and yet we have a place in Charleston doing a lot of great work.”

The game airs on ABC at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Contact writer Whitney Burdette at 304-348-7939 or whitney.burdette@dailymailwv.com. Follow her at www.Twitter.com/wburdette_DM.


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