US National Team Viewing at the Sweetwater – An Interesting Success Story
My first trip to the Sweetwater Bar and Grille was after a Minnesota Thunder game back in (I believe) 2004. Saeed Ghasemi, owner of the Sweetwater worked out a deal with a relative who owned the Minnesota Thunder. Soon the Sweetwater had become the post game party location for the Thunder. The visiting players would stay at the Kelly Inn and a food buffet would be set up for Thunder players to eat after the game. Thunder supporters were invited to the bar and grill after games to rub elbows with players and coaching staff.
In those early years many Dark Cloud supporters would head to the Sweetwater to relish a win over a brew or sip an adult beverage while consoling each other over the loss.
During those years and when the team was in St. Paul, I sat at the bar of the Sweetwater with players like MLS goalkeeper Joe Cannon as well as former Rochester Rhinos head coach Laurie Calloway. Calloway bought several of us Dark Cloud supporters a beer and we sat and talked coaching, tactics, the old NASL and anything and everything soccer.
Eventually the Thunder moved back to Blaine and the new Thunder Owners changed the hotel the visiting players stayed in. But the Dark Cloud Thunder supporters found themselves gravitating back to the Sweetwater after games.
The Sweetwater may not have the same vibe that a few of the trendy downtown Minneapolis Euro bars have. But I’ve had some great experiences over the years at the Sweetwater and I can tell you there is no finer place in the Twin Cities to watch a soccer game.
Perhaps the biggest plus over the last several years has been that owner Saeed Ghasemi was incredibly accommodating, filling the bar up with big screen TV’s and getting every soccer channel available including MLS Direct Kick. Saeed is a huge soccer fan, playing and refereeing the game for years. He spent some years in Germany and if you want to become his friend, strike up a conversation about Bayern Munich, Saeed’s favorite team.
You can always call the Sweetwater and ask if they will be showing a game. If Saeed gets the channel on satellite he will make sure it’s tuned in for you when you get there.
Because he went out of his way to accommodate our soccer needs, we started using the Sweetwater for US National Team watch parties. It took a while to get all the bugs worked out but now the Sweetwater is part of the Official US Soccer Bar Program and all our watch parties are at the Sweetwater.
On June 24th of this year (2009), a record 120 people filled up the Sweetwater to watch a very exciting but in the end disappointing US loss to Brazil in the Confederations Cup. On August 12th and even with a mid-afternoon weekday game against Mexico, over 100 people filled the Sweetwater.
Recently, when Saeed heard that no other bar in town was going to pony up the money for the closed circuit pay-per-view game between the US and Honduras, a World Cup qualifier that could seal the deal for the US, he took the risk and paid the money with the assurances of just a few of us regulars who said we thought we could make it work for him.
On Saturday evening, over 300 people attended the Sweetwater to watch one hell of a game for the US that assured them their 6th consecutive appearance in the World Cup. Not everyone could fit into the main bar so a conference room equipped with a TV was opened up.
A big hats off to Saeed for his work in making Saturday evening’s game a huge success and making the Sweetwater a great US Soccer bar. Hopefully many more soccer fanatics in the Twin Cities now know about the Sweetwater and know where they can have a great soccer bar experience without costing them an arm and a leg.
–Wednesday evening, October 14, 2009, the U.S. Men’s National Team will take on Costa Rica at 7 p.m. CT.
–What’s at stake for the US? First place in the CONCACAF Standings and a better seed going into the World Cup draw.
– What else is at stake? Costa Rica sits in 3rd place, they have now overtaken Honduras and hope to beat the US at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. If they do, they too will go to the 2010 World Cup, but if they lose and Honduras(4th place) can beat their opponent El Salvador (5th place), then Honduras will be making an appearance in South Africa next summer.
Of course, the watch party will be held at none other than the Sweetwater Bar and Grille.