What to expect at the bars during football season


Christian Cory

Students enjoy a night out at AJ’s Ultra Lounge the night after the Baylor University football game Sept. 24.

People roam around every corner of Welch Avenue as they walk from one bar to the next. Groups ranging from three to nine people meander the sidewalks and streets with different colored plastic mugs in hand. Bars with patios light up the night as patrons dance and drink shoulder to shoulder while music blares from each bar.

College students always go around to bars to celebrate the weekend, but Saturdays are busier than any other day of the week because of football. Many people go to bars and grills to eat and drink before heading to a game. Others watch the games in the bars to get a head start on bar hopping.

“It’s a really fun atmosphere out at the bars and out at night in Ames in general,” said Ben Kooker, the general manager of Es Tas Bar & Grill.

Es Tas Bar & Grill is an indoor bar that serves tacos, burgers and more, along with their bar menu. When walking into Es Tas Bar & Grill, visitors are greeted with booths and tables filled with college students enjoying quesadillas and beer as they watch the current football game.

Other major bars in the area include BNC Field House, AJ’s Ultra Lounge, Outlaws and Sips. Many of them open their doors early on game days to accommodate those who wish to watch the game at the bar.

Campustown nightlife is typically busy and energetic Saturdays before, during, and after football games. Outside of the football season, cold weather keeps bargoers inside a single bar instead of roaming the streets of Welch Avenue to bar hop.

“No matter what, it will always be busy on a Saturday,” Kooker said.

Loraine Dodson, a server at Es Tas Bar & Grill, spent lots of time at the bars in previous semesters. She shares that Saturdays were always busy and chaotic across all of Campustown.

“It takes anywhere between five and 15 to 20 minutes to get a drink anywhere, and that’s for all of Welch,” Dodson said.

Whether or not the football team is playing an away or home game has no impact on the number of people on Welch Avenue on Saturdays, but it does affect the timing.

During home games, patrons show up to the bars later in the night due to tailgating, Eleanor Magee, a junior studying animal ecology and a server and bartender at BNC Field House, said. Away games are busier because people prefer to stay in Ames and often head out to the bars earlier.

Magee enjoys Saturday nights the most. Her favorite part is the atmosphere.

“There is an energy, a buzz; it’s a lot of fun,” Magee said. “You have rowdy college kids getting excited about their football team, and when Sweet Caroline comes on, nothing can describe that.”

When the familiar strums of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond emerge from the speakers in the bar, everyone sings along. It is even louder than when the song is played at the stadium, according to Magee.