With apologies to English poet Rupert Brooke, there’s a sports bar in Phoenix, Arizona, that is forever Oakland, just one of many sports bars where Raider fans are made to feel right at home. This is the 1st in a series.
Catalina Sports Bar and Grill, a.k.a. Catalinas, is home to one of the most rabid Raider fan bases in the Raider Nation. And it’s located in Phoenix, Arizona!
Walk into the Catalina Sports Bar and Grill in Phoenix, Arizona, and you might think you’ve been magically transported to Oakland, California.
The walls are adorned with Oakland Raiders paraphernalia, and many of the customers are dressed in silver and black
“Catalinas does not have a big bar nor do they have a large menu,” says Michael J. Smallwood, a.k.a. “Myke”, who founded the Phoenician Raiders Booster Club in 2012.
“We attempt to make up for it by creating an environment that will make you believe that you’re in Oakland. Look @ the jerseys, pictures, and banners on the wall! Any newcomer will know without asking what kind of bar this place is!”
Number One Sports Bar
“We were amazed when we found out that we had became a Nationally Ranked Raider Bar after our first season” Myke says.
“After we were nominated for the Oakland Raiders Sports Bar Challenge – Who’s #1? – we as a club decided to pull together and fight tooth and nail to get the highest ranking as possible. When we took the lead, we smelled the blood in the water and went for it!!! Something that our club is VERY PROUD OF!!!”
And deservedly so! Most of the 27 bars that were nominated were quickly eliminated owing to insuffficient support.
The contest had to be cut short when the bar topped more than 10,000 votes, leaving its nearest competitors in the dust.
In the 2 years since winning that contest, the club has broadened its horizons, becoming a “dual” booster club supporting 2 teams.
In addition to rooting for the Oakland Raiders, its members also root for the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League.
In case you didn’t know, arena football is a variety of gridiron that is played indoors on a smaller playing field than that used to play conventional football.
As a result of the field’s smaller size, the sport is faster and scores tend to be higher.
The club became a 501c3 Charitable Organization in July 2015, which resulted in a name change.
“We were strongly advised to create a new name for our Charitable Non Profit Organization so that it would cover both Booster Clubs: Phoenicians Contributing to Arizona,” Myke says.
“Our Club is extremely active. From August to the Super Bowl in February, we are busy with NFL Raider Activities. March through August we are busy with Arizona Rattlers Activities,” Myke says.
“Due to the combined football schedules, we are busy doing volunteer work, toiletry, and food drives. All year round fans always show up for games, but we also have a handful of fans who show up for charitable events, as well. The number of participants depends on the popularity of the charitable event.”
So why are there so many Oakland Raiders fans in a region that has a football team of its own? Phoenix is, after all, home of the Arizona Cardinals.
“Phoenix, Arizona, is only a 5 or 6 hour drive away from Los Angeles, which was the home for the Raiders for 13 seasons,” Myke explains.
“There are lots of LA transplants here throughout the Phoenix area, which is why there is such a strong Raider Fan Base here in the desert.”
And now a look at the fans … and the welcoming facilities that await them …
Catalina Sports Bar and Grill, 2939 North 16st Street, Phoenix, Arizona.