Don’t change the channel: Minnesota’s first women’s sports bar is ready to tip off

A logo that says a bar of their own in a blue diamond
The logo for "A Bar of Their Own," Minnesota's first women's only sports bar. It is set to open in March 2024.
Courtesy image

Jillian Hiscock says she was never a good athlete but she loved and played sports year-round and always wanted to make sure everyone around her was having a good time.

Fast forward three decades later, and that’s still her mantra. 

Tired of walking into Twin Cities bars and pleading with the bartender to change the TV to women’s sports, Hiscock, 40, is set to open the Midwest’s first bar dedicated to promoting and watching women’s teams.

A Bar of Their Own — a wordplay on the classic film “A League of Their Own” that follows the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League during World War II — will open in the Seward neighborhood of south Minneapolis at the site of the old Tracy’s Saloon. More details are expected later Wednesday.

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A woman poses for a selfie
Jillian Hiscock poses for a selfie inside the former location of Tracy's Saloon.
Courtesy of Jillian Hiscock

“If there’s a women’s sport we can show on TV, we want to show it. We are talking about everything,” Hiscock said in a recent interview with MPR News. “We want to make it easier for kids, and young women in particular, to be able to see themselves on TV.”

Hiscock said she hopes to open the first week of March just in time for the Big 10 Women’s Basketball tournament, which will be in Minneapolis. 

Beyond Minnesota Lynx basketball, the Minnesota Aurora soccer team and soon-to-be Professional Women's Hockey team, Hiscock said the bar will also promote women’s teams across Minnesota and in competitions like Ultimate Frisbee and roller derby.

At its heart, the bar is a response to a constant frustration of walking into a place hoping to catch a women’s game and finding every TV is tuned into men’s leagues. Do you speak up? Ask the server to find the remote and change it to the women’s game? What if they say no? It can be complicated, Hiscock said, and makes women’s sports fans feel like less of a priority. 

A young girl does gymnastics
Jillian Hiscock at Mankato Area Gymnastics School in the 1990s.
Courtesy of Jillian Hiscock

There are three women’s-sports only bars in the country, The Sports Bra in Portland Ore., the Icarus in Salem, Ore., and the Rough and Tumble in Seattle. 

While laying plans for her Minneapolis bar, Hiscock visited The Sports Bra, which opened last year as the country’s first women’s sport-only bar, and found it a “transformational experience. “It’s inclusive, it’s prioritizing women and it really inspired me to continue to do what we’re doing even though it is not easy and sometimes frustrating.”

Two women pose for a seflie
Jillian Hiscock and her wife Megan Slater outside The Sports Bra in Portland, Ore.
Courtesy of Jillian Hiscock

Hiscock has raised nearly $140,000 in crowdfunding across 30 states. Many of the donors are people who may never make it to the bar.

Hiscock said there’s also been pushback from people who don’t believe people will come to watch women’s sports.

“We are really excited to prove everybody wrong and let them know, there is a huge, huge market for women’s sports fans,” Hiscosk said.