Screen Time

Seattle Gets Its Very Own Bar for Watching Women's Sports

Rough and Tumble will open in Ballard this winter.

By Allecia Vermillion August 10, 2022

Jen Barnes will put women's sports (on) first.

All Jen Barnes wanted was a place to watch the OL Reign semifinal against the Washington Spirit. A place other than her living room. She called a bunch of pubs in advance of the matchup last November, starting with ones known for airing soccer games. “Nobody was really carrying it.” The best she could do was the spot that would switch over after a football game—“and it wasn’t even the Seahawks playing.”

The Reign came up short against the Spirit that afternoon, but Barnes’s search for a venue where she could watch Seattle’s professional women’s soccer team yielded something unexpected. This winter, the third-generation Seattle resident will give our city its first pub dedicated to women’s sports. It’s called Rough and Tumble; Barnes has signed a lease on a spot on Ballard Avenue but says she won’t share the exact location until this fall.

Rough and Tumble will prioritize professional women’s sports, like the Reign and our other hometown powerhouse, the Seattle Storm. Barnes doesn’t yet have her final TV count, but estimates more than a dozen. “It’s super important for youth and teens and kids to see what equity and equal look like on a screen,” she says. In other words, her pub will be family friendly.

Back in April, Portland watering hole the Sports Bra became, by most counts, the first bar in the region (or perhaps the nation, maybe the planet) dedicated to showing women’s games. While Barnes has traded emails with owner Jenny Nguyen, she says Rough and Tumble won’t broadcast women’s sports exclusively. She’s a Seahawks fan, an Ms fan—and a Sounders ticket holder who also roots for the Kraken.

But in her experience, if you can convince a bartender to put on women’s sports, “you get this little screen over in the corner, and you never get sound.” She’s playing around with a system for Rough and Tumble that will create different audio zones, so patrons can listen to various games concurrently.

Barnes is also testing items for the food menu; she envisions a mix of “classic game-time food” and more health-conscious fare. Yep, this place will totally have a kids menu, and the bar will prioritize women-owned breweries, wineries, distilleries, and cideries.

The pub already has a website and Instagram. Meanwhile, Barnes is meeting with a few local teams to discuss having a few popups before Rough and Tumble officially opens—hopefully before the end of the year.

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