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The rise of the women's sports bar

After Jenny Nguyen opened The Sports Bra in Portland and made $1 million in eight months, campaigns are popping up for women's sports bars to open around the world - and we're here for it.

Last week, we posted on our Missing Perspectives Instagram about Jenny Nguyen launching The Sports Bra in Portland. It went viral very quickly.

In case you missed it: Jenny poured her life savings into opening The Sports Bra - a bar dedicated to playing women's sport on the screens. Wondering if it's a successful business model? The Sports Bra brought in nearly $1 million in revenue in its first eight months (we're not surprised - especially after seeing the impact of the Women's World Cup). When she first opened the bar, Jenny was worried the idea was too niche and that it wouldn't work out. She was very wrong.

“It turns out, it’s pretty universal — that feeling of being a women’s sports fan and going into a public place, like a sports bar, and having a difficult time finding a place to show a [women’s] game, especially when there are other men’s sports playing,” Nguyen told CNBC Make It. PREACH.

What we have learnt is that several other trailblazing women, particularly in the United States, have had the same idea as Jenny - to create safe and inclusive spaces for fans to enjoy women's sports. We're seeing women's sports bars - and campaigns to open others - pop up across North America and the world.

Rough and Tumble Pub opened in Seattle after watching the success of The Sports Bra. "We play women’s sports on big screens with full sound, served up with good food and good friends. We’ve got a seat for every fan who wants to tune in and turn it up–no matter if that’s on the court or the pitch, college or pro, icon or underdog," their website states proudly. The venue has 18 screens and holds 165 people. Trip to Seattle, anyone?

Icarus in Salem, Oregon, is another restaurant and bar dedicated to women's sport. The owners of the bar have said they have found it difficult to find a steady stream of women's sports on TV, so they have to make a "patchwork schedule" using cable and streaming services. Talk about dedication.

Just when we thought it couldn't get any better, A Bar of Their Own (best name ever?) will be opening in Minnesota shortly and will be dedicated exclusively to women's sports.

"In the spring of 2023, we went with a group of our friends to a nearby sports bar to watch the University of Minnesota Gophers Softball team play in the national tournament," the founder Jillian Hiscock wrote. "After not seeing the game on any of the 20+ televisions, we asked the bartender if they could get it on one of the many screens, which were currently playing everything from football game reruns to a cornhole tournament. We stopped to ask ourselves, what if it was different? What if fans of women’s sports had a place to come together and cheer loudly for their favourite team on the biggest screen in the bar…with the sound on?"

The comments on our Instagram post about The Sports Bra also alerted us to a campaign in London to launch Vs.Bar: London's first-ever dedicated women's sports bar. "This type of space would serve as a unique and valuable catalyst to grow London’s fan community for women’s sports because it subverts the exclusionary fandom commonly practised in ‘traditional’ sports bars," explains the founder Sana. Here's their Instagram, so get amongst it and give them the support they deserve, and we hope to see them open ASAP.

It's so inspiring to watch these hospitality leaders and sports fans build inclusive environments and challenge the invisibility of women's sports in traditional hospitality venues. A 2021 University of Southern California study found that about 5% of all TV sports coverage in the US focused on female athletes and women's sport. So hopefully we can see the dial shift.

Now, can anyone open a sports bar in Australia?