Sports Bar Business Basics


Regardless of how slowly things move in the economy, and no matter how swiftly world order seems to be unraveling, people still want their fix of professional sports. Those interested in opening a food & beverage establishment but uneasy about the risk of running a restaurant are therefore wise to consider a sports bar as a reasonable “middle of the road” option. Provide folks with a comfortable place to sit and watch their favorite team in HD while sipping a cold brew, and the everlasting allure of sports will keep them coming back for more.

The catch with sports bars is the fact the world is in no short supply of them. Most folks who enjoy the atmosphere of a sports bar to watch a ballgame already have a preferred place in mind. Entrepreneurs in the process of trying to finance a new sports bar, not unlike those aspiring to get financing for a new restaurant, are going to have to go the extra mile in ensuring the experience is something sure to bring repeat business. Otherwise, potential financiers will balk at the thought of throwing their hats into the ring (forgive the mixed sports-themed metaphors).

It’s imperative, then, for would-be sports bar owners to focus on what’s most important when it comes to the wants and needs of potential patrons. Although there is no magic universal-fitting plan towards sports bar success, the following outlines the essentials for achieving success with such a business opportunity:

Coverage and Access

The lifeblood of any sports bar is undoubtedly its television sports package. Those deciding to open one on their own must make sure they get a comprehensive subscription for regular season, postseason, and championship coverage in high definition. It’s recommended to choose the bundle for you and your business which includes NFL Sunday Ticket, NBA League Pass, and comparable deals for other professional league games. This way, no matter the sport or season, customers are always going to be able to watch games with the best quality image available.

Location and Licensing

In theory, a sports bar can be anywhere there’s space to put one. However, in the real world, where 90% of customers are going to be ordering alcoholic beverages, the location will need to be a place where there’s a high likelihood of being granted a liquor license. Generally speaking this means being more than 100 feet away from a church or school. Aspiring sports bar owners will not appreciate the number of churches and schools in this world until they start looking around for the right location. Fortunately, the best locations for sports bars tend to be along main commercial drags where neither church nor school is likely to be situated.

Selection and Discretion

The craft beer craze is great and all, but sports bars shouldn’t stray too far from the usual suspects as far as the alcohol selection is concerned. While a handful of high-brow brew options is actually recommended due to the sheer number of folks who prefer a finely crafted lager, sports bars can’t go wrong with keeping high volumes of Bud and other go-tos on draft. While we’re on the subject of serving beer, it’s equally important for sports bars to screen customers for their age. Newer establishments are especially vulnerable to undercover efforts by the state to check if servers are checking the age of customers before serving alcohol. Failure to do so will lead to heavy fines and the risk of having a liquor license revoked, which is essentially a death sentence for sports bars.

Safety and Security

Sports bar owners must take the safety and security of employees and patrons seriously. For instance, bartenders taking home lots of cash tips at night should be escorted to their vehicles. Especially busy periods such as playoff season will likely need the hired help of an off-duty police officer or two. We want to provide people a nice and relaxing time, but bars can also be a place where violence erupts. It’s imperative owners plan ahead, rather than hope it doesn’t happen.

Look and Layout

Lastly, it’s crucial for a sports bar to have an optimized seating arrangement. Simply put, every seat in the joint needs to be where a television screen is in clear view. While the memorabilia on the wall is nice and all, people came to see the big game, not stare at socks worn by Joe DiMaggio during his hitting streak. Speaking of which, keep the decor respectful. A bar which looks a way we could let our grandmas see without blushing is one which someone won’t mind bringing friends and relatives to visit. This, of course, means more business.

Considering most food and beverage places struggle to survive longer than a few years, a sports bar seems like a safe bet on account of the ever-present draw of televised games. Year in and year out, the fans show up to watch. It’s simply a matter of giving them a place so great they keep coming back.


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