Oregon's Sports Bra plans national expansion as interest booms

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — On a caller weeknight astatine this barroom successful northeast Portland, fans downed pints and burgers arsenic assemblage women’s lacrosse and formation volleyball matches played connected big-screen TVs. Memorabilia autographed by female athletes covered nan walls, pinch a coating of U.S. shot fable Abby Wambach mounted supra nan chalkboard brew menu.

The Sports Bra is simply a pub wherever women’s sports are celebrated — and nan only point connected TV.

Packed and buzzing pinch activity, nan barroom has successfully tapped into a meteoric emergence of liking successful women’s sports, embodied astir precocious by nan frenzy complete University of Iowa hoops arena Caitlin Clark’s records-smashing feats.

Just 2 years aft opening, nan barroom announced plans this week to spell nationwide done a franchise model.

The Sports Bra laminitis and CEO Jenny Nguyen poses for a photograph astatine nan sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The Sports Bra laminitis and CEO Jenny Nguyen poses for a photograph astatine nan sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The Sports Bra laminitis and CEO Jenny Nguyen laughs during an question and reply pinch nan Associated Press astatine nan sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The Sports Bra laminitis and CEO Jenny Nguyen laughs during an question and reply pinch nan Associated Press astatine nan sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

“Things person happened astatine ray velocity compared to what my forecast was,” laminitis and CEO Jenny Nguyen told The Associated Press. “This mini spot that I built for my friends and I to watch games and springiness female athletes their flowers intends truthful overmuch more. And not conscionable to me, but to a batch of people.”

Under nan plan, bars and entrepreneurs elsewhere will beryllium capable to use to usage The Sports Bra marque for their franchises. Nguyen is unfastened to moving pinch group who already person a beingness space, arsenic good arsenic those who whitethorn only person a business plan. What matters, she said, is that nan imaginable early partners stock The Sports Bra’s values.

One aspiring partner is Jackie Reau, who hopes to unfastened a franchise successful Cincinnati, wherever she useful arsenic nan CEO of a media and trading agency. During an question and reply astatine The Sports Bra, wherever she happily watched her assemblage women’s lacrosse squad connected 1 of nan TV sets, she said specified establishments “celebrate women’s sports and nan champions and nan athletes down nan story.”

Jackie Reau speaks during an question and reply pinch nan Associated Press astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. The sports barroom plans to grow crossed nan state done a franchise model. Reau, an aspiring partner, hopes to unfastened a franchise successful Cincinnati, wherever she useful arsenic nan CEO of a media and trading agency. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Jackie Reau speaks during an question and reply pinch nan Associated Press astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

As a Caitlin Clark jersey is displayed successful nan background, customers eat and watch assemblage women's lacrosse and formation volleyball matches astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

As a Caitlin Clark jersey is displayed successful nan background, customers eat and watch assemblage women's lacrosse and formation volleyball matches astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

“It’s breathtaking to spot it turn and summation specified popularity,” Reau said of nan bar. “It’s conscionable specified a infinitesimal correct now for women’s sports.”

The description will beryllium boosted by backing from a instauration created by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who is joined to tennis fable Serena Williams. Nguyen said she already has received hundreds of inquiries.

Interest successful women’s sports is astatine an all-time high, helped by Clark’s exploits this year, erstwhile she shattered all-time NCAA scoring records for women and men. The title crippled betwixt Iowa and South Carolina connected April 7 drew 18.9 cardinal viewers connected average, surpassing nan assemblage for nan men’s title lucifer for nan first time.

A week later a grounds 2.45 cardinal viewers connected mean tuned successful to nan WNBA draught to watch arsenic Clark went to nan Indiana Fever arsenic nan No. 1 pick. This week it was reported that she was group to motion a $28 cardinal woody pinch Nike that would beryllium nan richest sponsorship statement for a women’s hoops player.

Customers eat and watch assemblage women's lacrosse and formation volleyball matches connected big-screen TVs astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Customers eat and watch assemblage women’s lacrosse and formation volleyball matches connected big-screen TVs astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

The emergence successful liking is not conscionable for women’s basketball, but different sports arsenic well. The 2023 Women’s World Cup reported grounds attendance pinch astir 2 cardinal fans. A University of Nebraska volleyball crippled played successful a shot stadium drew much than 92,000 group past August, a world record for largest attendance astatine a women’s sporting event.

“It’s benignant of successful this pinnacle infinitesimal wherever eyeballs are plentiful,” said Lauren Anderson, head of nan Warsaw Sports Business Center astatine nan University of Oregon. “It’s conscionable been an alignment of galore things that has created this unthinkable infinitesimal for women’s sports that seems to beryllium much than conscionable a flash successful nan pan.”

As nan instrumentality guidelines and engagement grow, truthful excessively does nan appetite for changing a sports barroom civilization that has traditionally catered to men’s athletics. Other establishments for illustration The Sports Bra person precocious opened elsewhere: A Bar of Their Own began operating successful Minneapolis earlier this year, and Seattle’s Rough & Tumble launched successful precocious 2022.

Sports bars person not ever been invited spaces for women, Nguyen said. A instrumentality since childhood, she would stitchery groups of friends to spell because she didn’t consciousness safe going by herself. She recalled encountering macho environments that made her uncomfortable, and bartenders who refused to alteration nan transmission to a women’s game.

“That was conscionable what we settled with,” she said. “When I wanted to push backmost and benignant of flip nan position quo, that’s erstwhile I really started to excavation successful connected really The Sports Bra could matter and alteration nan communicative connected sports bars.”

A roller derby lucifer is played connected a TV adjacent to a dressed up hoops hoop astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

A roller derby lucifer is played connected a TV adjacent to a dressed up hoops hoop astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

An image depicting tennis fable Billie Jean King is displayed astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

An image depicting tennis fable Billie Jean King is displayed astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Employee Allison Clarke useful astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Employee Allison Clarke useful astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Thursday, April 25, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Autographs from WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and master hoops subordinate Nneka Ogwumike are seen connected nan wall astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. Ogwumike now plays for nan Seattle Storm. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Autographs from WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert and master hoops subordinate Nneka Ogwumike are seen connected nan wall astatine The Sports Bra sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

One representation successful peculiar stands retired for Nguyen from her clip arsenic proprietor: Serena Williams’ past match, successful 2022. A monolithic crowd showed up to watch, spilling complete onto nan the sidewalk. People extracurricular cupped their eyes pinch their hands arsenic they peered done nan windows to spot nan screens.

“When Serena would people a point, I committedness to God, I thought nan solid was going to shatter. My eyeballs were rattling wrong my head,” Nguyen said. “And past erstwhile they were volleying, I consciousness for illustration you could perceive a burger flip successful nan kitchen.”

Toward nan end, she felt tears welling up. She passed 2 insubstantial boxes astir for likewise weepy customers arsenic everyone reveled successful Williams’ past minutes connected nan court.

“I retrieve taking a heavy activity and thinking, ‘I don’t cognize if there’s a azygous spot connected nan look of nan satellite that is having this nonstop moment,’” Nguyen said. “It was amazing.”

Bartender M.J. Jones, left, and chap worker Allison Clarke, right, respond arsenic an question and reply pinch The Sports Bra laminitis and CEO Jenny Nguyen, center, airs connected a surface during their displacement astatine nan sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. A coating of U.S. shot fable Abby Wambach is mounted supra nan chalkboard brew menu. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Bartender M.J. Jones, left, and chap worker Allison Clarke, right, respond arsenic an question and reply pinch The Sports Bra laminitis and CEO Jenny Nguyen, center, airs connected a surface during their displacement astatine nan sports barroom connected Wednesday, April 24, 2024, successful Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane)

Fans tin still find it challenging to watch women’s sports games, because galore are not broadcast connected TV and require different streaming subscriptions, said Tarlan Chahardovali, an adjunct professor successful nan University of South Carolina’s Department of Sport and Entertainment Management.

Women’s sports bars tin beryllium a reliable go-to for galore events by having those subscriptions. But much broadly, Chahardovali said, overmuch activity remains to beryllium done to guarantee nan media marketplace doesn’t undervalue women’s sports.

“Today’s numbers are difficult to ignore, and I deliberation it’s a very breathtaking time,” she said. “But it’s a infinitesimal that needs to beryllium maintained and sustained, and it needs continuous investment.”