The New York City Buffalo Bills Backers moved their meet-up location from McFadden's Saloon to Public House last year to accommodate more fans under one roof and because McFadden's lease was due to expire.
Just over a year later, McFadden's appears to be for sale, officially marking the end of an era for a bar held dear by Bills fans for nearly two decades.
NYC Buffalo Bills Backers co-founder Matthew Kabel tweeted an image Thursday morning of McFadden's, at 800 2nd Ave., a few blocks from Manhattan's Grand Central Terminal, with a "corner space available" sign.
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I was sent this photo of McFadden's, sadly appears to be the end of an era for NYC Buffalo Bills fans. 16 years of watching games there together with guests like Tim Russert and Marv Levy. This bar will always have a special place in my heart, I practically grew up there. pic.twitter.com/oKtqGcLSuC— Matthew Kabel (@MattKabel) September 24, 2020
An email sent to the McFadden's contact address was returned undeliverable, and the responder to a call placed to the Philips International number posted on the sign in Kabel's tweet declined comment beyond saying the building was "still rented to McFadden's, but (he) wasn't sure."
New York City extended its restrictions on bars and restaurants longer than Western New York did, but Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has slowly loosened the reins in phase four of the state's reopening plan, with indoor dining permitted at 25% beginning Sept. 30.
The McFadden's history extends deep into the history of Bills fanhood among expats.
In 2003 – in a piece entitled "Rob Johnson will never understand" – former News columnist Donn Esmonde dove deep into Kabel's passion for the Bills and also what McFadden's represented as an extension of Buffalo sports, writing:
"Here's what any Buffalonian already knows: It is about more than football, about more than a friendly place to go for the game. It is about a Buffalo state of mind, a shared consciousness and identity that infuses just about anybody who has lived here."
Even then, Kabel embraced the connection shared by shoulder-to-shoulder fans angling for a glimpse of the action in a bar that smelled increasingly of Labatt Blue.
"Everybody that comes (on Sundays) shares that feeling of community and pride of being from Buffalo," Kabel said in Esmonde's story. "It's a small piece of heaven."
Over its 16 years as the official NYC Bills Backer Bar, the Midtown haunt became an iconic gathering place for Bills fans and Buffalo transplants, including celebrities with Buffalo pride. Team memorabilia was sprinkled generously throughout the bar, including a framed photo of legendary Bills coach Marv Levy with some of the backers.
In 2006, Greg Connors wrote that late NBC News anchor Tim Russert would make occasional stops at McFadden's, and also shared a 2004 YouTube link of the Bills fan experience in the bar.
As recently as Dec. 31, 2017 – when Andy Dalton's touchdown pass for the Bengals sealed a Buffalo Bills playoff berth and signaled the end of their 18-year playoff drought – McFadden's buzzed.
This video from WKBW's Matt Bove shows the sheer elation from inside the backers bar – and this was just after the Bengals returned an interception for a touchdown to take a 24-10 lead.