Over the last month, millions worldwide tuned in to watch the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT) march toward their second consecutive World Cup win—sealed Sunday night with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.
Twin Cities soccer fans were no exception, and local bars reaped the benefits.
Brit’s Pub, La Doña Cervecería, and the Black Hart of Saint Paul were a few bars that took advantage of the opportunity. Though they’re already known for their ties to the soccer world, these establishments say they kicked things up a notch for the special occasion.
For instance, they extended their hours to be open for all (or nearly) all the games in the tournament and set up as many TV and projector screens as possible, all tuned in to soccer. They also staffed up and bulked up on supplies in anticipation of larger-than-usual crowds.
A packed house at La Doña Cervecería's for the Women's World Cup final game. (Photo courtesy of La Doña Cervecería).
“It’s a huge amount of effort,” says Shane Higgins, general manager of Brit’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis. He says the Women’s World Cup proved to be “a massive financial benefit” for the bar.
Brit’s Pub welcomed about 1,200 people for the semi-final U.S. game July 2. For the finale, the bar reached maximum capacity—1,629 people—thirty minutes before the game even began. To accommodate the crowd, Higgins made sure no private events or lawn bowling league games were scheduled during games so that the full rooftop lawn could be used for viewing games. Visitors could enjoy drink specials during the games, too.
Sergio Manancero, founder of the Minneapolis Latin brewery La Doña, says his bar offered its full drink menu at all times—including its occasionally-available special micheladas, a Mexican beer-with-tomato-juice cocktail. He also made arrangements to have a food truck on site at all times, since La Doña’s doesn’t have a kitchen.
“We just tried to give the whole place that kind of energy,” said Manancero. “Not only does it benefit us… it benefited [the food trucks] as well. It’s pulling everybody together to make these things happen.”
Additionally, Manancero kicked the World Cup tournament off with a street fair, shutting down the brewery’s parking lot and hosting a big party. The effort helped helped La Doña secure a steady stream of visitors for the games, he says.
Meanwhile, the Black Hart of Saint Paul, an LGBTQ soccer bar, on June 11 hosted a podcast recording on site with Holly Manthei, a former U.S. Women’s soccer player and current director of marketing for Surly Brewing Co.
Black Hart also offered its happy hour deals during games, and teamed up with sponsors, including Peace Coffee, to put on raffles and giveaways. Bar management and fans brought in donuts for the whole bar to enjoy, too, says Black Hart manager Wes Burdine.
Higgins says Brit’s Pub probably did nine times as much business during the games, particularly on the day of the finals last Sunday. Manancero says La Doña—which had 250 people the day of the semi-final and was filled to maximum capacity for the finals—likely had more sales in the 90 minutes of game time than it would have during an entire day of operation. For its part, Black Hart also had a packed house for the final game.
Black Hart of St. Paul was buzzing during the Women's World Cup. (Photo courtesy of Black Hart).
Higgins, Manancero, and Burdine say the games brought in some new patrons, too. For instance, Brit’s Pub saw more kids and families than usual, while Black Hart saw more women.
The crowd at @BlackHartSTP right now is like 100+ patriotic lesbians and one very brave Dutch guy. #USAvNED ⚽💃— KT Lindemann (@KTLindemannMN) July 7, 2019
The crowd at @BlackHartSTP right now is like 100+ patriotic lesbians and one very brave Dutch guy. #USAvNED ⚽💃
The bar managers appreciate the diversity that the Women’s World Cup uniquely brings.
“It's men, it's women, it's people bringing their kids…white people and black people and Latino people—it's all over the board,” said Manancero.
Adds Burdine: “Those [U.S.] players and that team are able to speak to a lot more people and get a lot more different kinds of people involved. Megan Rapinoe… speaks to a lot of people in the country, but particularly a lot of people in the bar. She’s an inspiration to them. For us to get the excitement of so many women and queer people into soccer... that’s exciting.”
Burdine and Higgins both note that women’s soccer is more U.S. team-dependent and doesn’t draw the same large crowds to their bars as men’s games—World Cup or not. But they say the popularity of soccer in general, and women’s soccer, is growing. And all three bar owners are optimistic that soccer fever will continue even after the glow of the U.S. victory fades.
Between the Minnesota United, ESPN TV’s recent deal to broadcast National Women’s Soccer League games, and worldwide matches and competitions still ongoing, there’s certainly no shortage of soccer games for fans to return to the Twin Cities bars to watch.
“Even if it’s just a couple of people, they can come in and watch the soccer they want,” says Burdine.
Adds Manancero: “Even if the payoff [isn’t as big], it’s important for us to support soccer. [It’s] a way to build community.”
So while Rapinoe’s purple hair may not grace the bars’ screens as much now, the bars’ doors will be open, drinks will be flowing, and TVs will be tuned to soccer games.