Today, in Seattle’s bustling Ballard neighborhood, a new sports pub opens for business: Rough & Tumble. Located just off Ballard Avenue, in the space that was once home to Kickin Boot Whiskey Kitchen, and later Sawyer, this one is a new kind of sports bar. Pictured above, from Instagram, Leslie Gallimore presents Jen Barnes (Rough & Tumber founder) with a commemorative jersey – Gallimore is the winningest coach in UW Women’s Soccer history.
I visited Rough & Tumble last night for a preview event. My first impression walking into the space, this is the coolest sports bar in Seattle. I must admit, I don’t spend a lot of time in sports bars, but if they were all like this maybe I would. It had all the expected sports bar features. Which is to say, lots and lots of big-screen televisions, as well as a couple of pool tables. It’s bright and polished, not dark and dingy like so many other sports bars.
Rough & Tumble is focused on the inclusion of women’s sports, prioritizing women’s sports on its screens. Sure, they’ll show other games too — Seahawks, Kraken, Mariners, and all usual Seattle sports. But at Rough & Tumble, the priority is Women’s sports — Seattle Storm, OL Reign, and women’s collegiate athletics. Like most sports bars, the walls are adorned with sports memorabilia. At Rough & Tumble, the framed jerseys are from local superstar athletes like Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
Jen Barnes is the person behind Rough & Tumble. The spark came when Barnes was looking for a bar showing the OL Reign semi-final game. “Rough & Tumble was conceived because I simply wanted to watch women’s sports on a big screen, with sound, and not in my living room. Today, I’m investing in women’s sports and the business of women’s sports because it’s an imperative.”
The food I sampled was solid. So too was the draft beer menu. Nothing here to blow your mind, but solid locally brewed craft beer options spanning the basic range of styles from Pilsner to Porter, with a couple IPAs along the way.
Rough & Tumble is located at 5309 22nd Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107. Next time there’s a big game, and especially if it’s one of our local women’s sports events, give Rough & Tumble a shot. Either that or just go there anytime and check out what they’ve done with the space. It’s pretty cool. Below, I share a press release announcing today’s opening.
The Nation Has a New Home for Women’s Sports
Fans and players of women’s sports can now celebrate in Seattle–a city home to top women athletes–at Rough & Tumble
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON – Dec. 2, 2022. Highly anticipated Rough & Tumble is focused on the full inclusion of women’s sports in sports media and is making watching women’s sports accessible to all. The newly renovated Henry Whyte Building will open its doors to the community on Friday, Dec. 9.
“As like-minded individuals and fans of women’s sports, we are hoping to build a diverse community of trust, value, mutual respect, and belonging,” said Jen Barnes, owner and founder. “Rough & Tumble was conceived because I simply wanted to watch women’s sports on a big screen, with sound, and not in my living room. Today, I’m investing in women’s sports and the business of women’s sports because it’s an imperative.”
In 2021, Barnes couldn’t find a place to watch the OL Reign semi-final outside of her living room and realized her personal passion was also a cultural zeitgeist. According to Sports Innovation Lab, women’s sports are the fastest growing segment–and boast some of the most avid fans–of the sports industry. Yet, sports media allocates just 5% of its broadcast and streaming time to women’s sports while delegating 95% of streaming and cable coverage to men’s sports. More often than not, if you can convince a bartender to play a women’s game, it will routinely be relegated to the smallest screen and rarely carries sound.
“We are excited to welcome Rough & Tumble into the women’s sports community in Seattle,” said Seattle Storm ownership. “There is no better time and no better city to launch this type of venue and we look forward to supporting them!”
Rough & Tumble will prioritize women’s sports on its screens and speakers, playing OL Reign, Seattle Storm, and women’s collegiate games. As avid sports fans with a focus on equality, Rough & Tumble’s eighteen screens (including a 110” video wall) will broadcast all sports, including our beloved Seahawks, Kraken, Mariners, and Sounders. The kitchen will be headed by Chef Tessa Roberts and food will be pub classics. The menu will highlight farmers from neighboring Ballard Farmers Market. The beverage program has been developed with strong support from Barnes’ favorite women-owned and run teams from around the PNW.
“It’s great to see this vision come to life as the demand for women’s sports is increasing at a rapid rate. This past season we witnessed teams across the league shatter attendance records, including OL Reign, and for the first time ever the NWSL Championship aired during primetime, breaking viewership records,” said Michelle Haines, VP of Marketing & Ticketing, OL Reign. “We’re thrilled that there will be a new home for fans of women’s sports to gather together and very excited for our loyal supporters to have a new and inclusive environment to watch all our matches.”
In addition to viewing games, Rough & Tumble will also:
- Host athletes, special guests and private events
- Offer an all-season, covered and heated outdoor space
- Welcome kids, families, teens and collegiate athletes
- Provide game day catering options
Join the Rough & Tumble team for their opening weekend, beginning Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. The weekend will be full of special guests, all the games, and an all-out celebration of the new business.
About Rough & Tumble We’re for a world where women are seen as winners, on the pitch, the courts, the sand, the surf. Everywhere, with equal opportunity, promoting the vision to generations to come. That’s why we created a place where women’s sports are celebrated on big screens, with big sound, good friends, and great food. As like-minded individuals and fans of women’s sports, we work to build a diverse community of trust, value, mutual respect and belonging. Rough and Tumble is located in the historic Old Ballard neighborhood of Seattle. As a community of the bold, fierce and feisty, we call our own shots and we love to cut loose. We take every opportunity to dig in, play hard–and when we fall down, we get right back up and keep on going. To learn more, visit roughandtumblepub.com and follow us on Instagram @roughandtumble.
HOURS: Open 7 days a week. Monday – Thursday 3 p.m – midnight, Friday 2 p.m. – 1 a.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 1 a.m., Sunday 9 a.m. – 11 p.m.