Not every college football fan is going to be able to squeeze into Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on the University of Oklahoma campus for home games this season, nor are all Dallas Cowboys fans going to make the three-hour drive south to cheer on America’s team in the brand-new Cowboys Stadium.
Fans who can’t make it out to the game always have the option to watch from home, but that presents its own special challenges, namely nagging spouses with lists of chores. Where, then, can a sports fan take refuge and root, root, root for the home team?
Numerous local eateries and watering holes ” and even one apartment complex ” have stepped up to help fans herd together to celebrate or mourn the fates of their favorite teams.
Here are a few of the metro’s choicest spots to catch a game.
Coach’s Restaurant and Brewery
20 S. Mickey Mantle
Stats: The sports-themed family restaurant has 14 televisions. The largest is a modular big screen that is 4 feet tall by 12 feet wide, and can be broken into different screens.
Coach’s Restaurant and Brewery managed to plant itself shoulder to shoulder with the Bricktown Ballpark, but that ideal location also makes it prime real estate for baseball-season squatting, when general manager Kyle Cates said customers will sometimes sit through the entire game, and that’s fine by him.
“That is where we are and what we do, so we anticipate that,” Cates said. “We have a patio that overlooks the ballpark as well and another patio that overlooks the canal that is open when weather permits. The ballpark patio is open year-round, but we don’t have warmers out there. We will still get customers that will go out there to look out across the ballpark, especially when there is snow on the ground, because you don’t often get to see snow on a baseball field.”
Coach’s fights the misconception that it is tethered to the Oklahoma City RedHawks season. Cates said he’s heard people say they thought Coach’s wasn’t even open during the off-season. He said the eatery is bolstered by banquet season and the drawing power of OU and Oklahoma State University football games. It also sees a boost in business with the annual snow tubing at the ballpark, which begins Nov. 27.
Coach’s also draws crowds based on its beer selection, which not only features a selection from the Coach’s Brewery in Norman, but also the Bricktown Brewery down the road, meaning it has seven locally handcrafted brews. Cates admitted that it is still the ballpark next door that makes his location special, and what is happening on the diamond can affect the numbers he get in the restaurant.
“Josh Hamilton had been sent here from the Texas Rangers for a couple games while he was rehabbing an injury, and we got really good crowds then,” he said. “There are several things like that which will spike interest in the RedHawks.”
Cousins Bar & Grill
6509 N. May
Stats: The neighborhood restaurant has seven flat-screen TVs, the largest being 60 inches. It also has three pool tables, two dartboards and a shuffleboard table.
National chains dominate the sports bar/restaurant landscape, but will always be a place for a locally owned business that knows its customers well enough to make sure the television is tuned to their favorite team before they even make it to the table.
Cousins has filled that role since 1986, deriving much of its business from regulars who see the spot as a game-day tradition.
“We have a neighborhood niche bar where everyone feels comfortable coming in, regardless of their era,” manager Stacy Ryan said. “Since Cousins has been here so long, we have a very loyal following. We have a big lunch crowd, which is completely different than our dinner crowd. During the day, we are more of a restaurant, and at night, we are more of a bar.”
Cousins serves food from 11 a.m. to midnight, meaning that customers can still grab a Reuben sandwich even if the NFL late game has stretched into overtime. To celebrate the Red River rivalry, it gets customers ready for the OU/Texas match by offering a free breakfast that morning. Ryan said that it is the food that really separates Cousins from a standard sports bar.
“The thing that makes our food unique from most bars is other places have mostly fried foods and appetizers, but we have a full menu,” she said. “We cook our own corned beef for our Reubens. None of our food comes in frozen. Our hamburgers and steaks come in the day before and are cut and prepared for the next day. We cook our own turkey breast ” so it isn’t deli-sliced ” and make our own ranch dressing.”
Although Cousins thrives on its regulars, Ryan said that having energetic game-day crowds will help draw in new blood looking for a festive place to cheer on their team.
“They come in dressed in their team outfits and scream and yell. It gets a little crazy in here, but it makes it a fun atmosphere when everyone is involved in the game,” she said.
Isola Bella Pavilion
6303 N.W. 63rd
Stats: This exclusive watch party has four widescreen monitors, the largest at 52 inches.
If a neighborhood haunt is what you’re looking for in your game-day experience, then Isola Bella Apartments offers a unique twist on a sports bar. For the 2009 football season, owner David Miller began converting the complex’s pavilion into a watch center on Saturdays and Sundays.
The massive, 800-unit complex ” spread out over 45 acres with two lakes, pools, tennis courts, spa center and other amenities ” caters to both extended-stay clients as well as normal apartment guests.
“This is a unique service to provide something different in the extended-stay business ” a niche we are trying to develop,” he said. “We set up this BYOB. We’ll put out some stuff like cookies, hot wings or whatever we are in the mood for that week.”
The experiment helps foster a greater sense of community at the complex, which is difficult because residents aren’t as fixed as they would be in a normal residential neighborhood.
“A lot of the FAA students are only here for three to four months, and didn’t know any of each other until coming to Oklahoma City, which is why we want to develop a community for them,” Miller said.
Where the boys aren’t
Sports bar crowds might seem to be a mostly homogenous collections of rabid male fans and the women who love them, but KA’s Club, 2024 N.W. 11th, is frequented by a different crowd.
“This is a lesbian bar,” said owner Michelle Hobbs. “We accept everyone, but it is primarily a ladies’ bar, and it has been since the ’70s.”
Established in the late ’60s under the name King Arthur, Hobbs said the bar transformed from a straight club to a lesbian bar. Now with two flat-screen TVs and two regular TVs, she said the bar caters to the female sports fan that is just as loud and boisterous during OU and OSU football games as her straight, male counterparts.
The niche spot also sustains longevity with its regulars, including some who have frequented KA’s since it was first established.
“We have a little community that come in all the time,” Hobbs said. “We will get new customers, but mostly from associates of the bar. Once they have spent time here, they usually come back because the atmosphere is warm. It’s not your typical bar, it’s more down-to-earth and homey.”
The favored sports are also similar to a straight sports bar, with baseball, basketball and even NASCAR getting some time on the televisions. Hobbs said that football remains the favorite sport, or at least for the female contingent.
“It’s mostly just the women,” she said. “The men could care less. It’s amazing how that works.” “Charles Martin