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Ukrainian Sports Club Avoids Sudden Death

IMG_0577Evan Bleier

A year after alarm bells sounded when its home on Second Avenue was put on the rental market, the Ukrainian Sports Club is still soldiering on, and will be among the neighborhood drinking establishments showing the Super Bowl this weekend.

Wasyl Zinkewitsch, the president of the club, said that previous reports that it might leave the neighborhood were misinterpreted. “Our interests are to keep this club running,” he said while sipping from a bottle of Coors Light yesterday evening. “We’ve been here since 1947.”

In February of last year, The Local reported that the club was reeling from $80,000 in yearly property tax, $25,000 per year in insurance, and $250,000 in repairs after a fire the previous summer. To cover those costs, the sports fraternity is currently hoping to rent out a commercial space on the second floor, a vacant loft apartment, and even the front room of its clubhouse.

“We need some serious revenue to keep this place going,” said Mr. Zinkewitsch. “There’s no other choice. We have to rent places that were once exclusively part of the club.” Read more…

An Era Ends At Ukrainian Sports Club

DSC_0225Meredith Hoffman The Ukrainian Sports Club, a hub for emigres for four decades, is set to close soon. Citing a membership of 20 people, club organizers say that it can no longer continue with an $80,000 annual property tax bill and the $25,000 per year cost of insurance.

From his barstool at the Ukrainian Sports Club, Ozzy Verbitsky yelled a message to his fellow Ukrainian-Americans on a recent evening, “There’s no more club anymore! We’re finished!”  Then he shook his head mournfully and turned back to the bar.

Though other members wore less visible despair, most turned glum at the mention of the club’s future. The space on Second Avenue near Seventh Street, which has been owned and occupied by the “Ukrainian sports fraternity” since 1972, was put on the rental market last week, due to the club’s financial struggle. Already, 15 interested businesses have responded, said real estate broker Gary Rubinstein.

“This is a unique opportunity because of size and location,” said Mr. Rubinstein, who listed the price for the 3,150-square-foot ground floor space at $26,500 per month. “A major change is coming to the building.”

That change will leave old-timers like John Kowal, 85, and recent immigrants like Jerry Gritsik, 57, searching for a new spot to play cards each night.

In a vast room covered with soccer photos and old trophies, Mr. Kowal looked up from his four-person game but continued to grip his cards as he spoke.

“The old timers die, there are very few people left,” said Mr. Kowal, who was around at the club’s founding and during its soccer championship in the U.S. Open Cup in 1965. “But so far we still exist.”
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