SBD/March 1, 2011/Facilities

MLSE Considering Establishing Additional Sports Bars After Initial Success

Over 250,000 patrons have visited Real Sports Bar & Grill since opening last June
Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment's Real Sports Bar & Grill in Toronto is "regularly filled to capacity," and MLSE is "considering offers to establish similar venues in Canada and the United States," according to Rachel Brady of the GLOBE & MAIL. More than 250,000 patrons have visited the 1,000-seat venue since it opened last June, and ESPN Mobile "already voted it the best sports bar in North America." To devise the concept, MLSE food and hospitality officials "visited bars, restaurants and night clubs across North America to observe best practices." Rockwell Group, an architecture firm "known for its work on grand projects like Oscar sets, concert theatres, stadiums and luxury hotels, designed Real Sports like a theatre -- 26,800 square feet over two levels -- which cost" C$12M to build. The venue "has 199 television screens, including the gargantuan high-definition screen over the bar that is claimed to be the biggest in any sports grill anywhere." The decor also includes "sculptures of famous trophies in sports, hockey-stick-inspired chandeliers, and a bar glazed like a sheet of ice." The venue has "neutral tones and night-club lighting, modern furnishings, a golf simulator, and booths to dock your iPod or laptop for a business lunch." MLSE said that the bar's clientele is 40% female on average, though "football-heavy viewing days tend to skew just" 25% female. The players' lounge is "routinely filled with not just members of MLSE's teams -- the Maple Leafs, Raptors and Toronto FC -- but also other sports figures" (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/26).
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