Bar That Shows Only Women's Sports Is Going Nationwide

Oregon's 'Sports Bra' announces plans to expand
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2024 7:41 AM CDT
Bar That Shows Only Women's Sports Is Going Nationwide
A roller derby match is played on a TV next to a decorated basketball hoop at the Sports Bra sports bar on Thursday, April 25, 2024, in Portland, Ore.   (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

On a recent weeknight at this bar in northeast Portland, fans downed pints and burgers as college women's lacrosse and beach volleyball matches played on big-screen TVs. Memorabilia autographed by female athletes covered the walls, with a painting of US soccer legend Abby Wambach mounted above the chalkboard beer menu. The Sports Bra is a pub where women's sports are celebrated—and the only thing on TV. Packed and buzzing with activity, the bar has successfully tapped into a meteoric rise of interest in women's sports, embodied most recently by the frenzy over University of Iowa basketball phenomenon Caitlin Clark's records-smashing feats. Just two years after opening, the bar announced plans this week to go nationwide through a franchise model, the AP reports.

Under the plan, bars and entrepreneurs elsewhere will be able to apply to use The Sports Bra brand for their franchises. Founder and CEO Jenny Nguyen is open to working with people who already have a physical space, as well as those who may only have a business plan. What matters, she said, is that the potential future partners share The Sports Bra's values. The expansion will be boosted by funding from a foundation created by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who is married to tennis legend Serena Williams. Nguyen said she already has received hundreds of inquiries.

The rise in interest is not just for women's basketball, but other sports as well. The 2023 Women's World Cup reported record attendance with nearly 2 million fans. A University of Nebraska volleyball game played in a football stadium drew more than 92,000 people last August, a world record for largest attendance at a women's sporting event. As the fan base and engagement grow, so too does the appetite for changing a sports bar culture that has traditionally catered to men's athletics—and that has not always been welcoming to women. Other establishments like The Sports Bra have recently opened elsewhere: A Bar of Their Own began operating in Minneapolis earlier this year, and Seattle's Rough & Tumble launched in late 2022. (Much more on the subject, and the Sports Bra, here.)

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