The steady creep of sports bars across Vancouver

too many sports bars in Vancouver

From my friend Jonathan, who posted this Google Maps screenshot along with the assessment “No comment.”

It would please me to blame this sudden proliferation of sports bars on the damn Vancouver 2010 Olympics. However, though I’m sure the Olympics didn’t help, the causes predate 2010. For starters we have the pricing out of non-corporate culture through the condo-ization of the city and related real estate speculation and astronomical commercial rents. Skyrocketing property values and rents have made it extremely difficult for restaurants to make a profit. Then there’s the intensification of hockeymania through corporate PR and broadcasting. There’s the aggressive expansion of generic restaurant chains taking over older venues which have trouble paying inflated rents and competing with said hockeymania. There’s the whole culture of aspirational consumer aesthetics and the insecure anti-cultural swagger of what was historically a resource extraction town. Maybe too there’s just laziness and lack of imagination in the restaurant industry. Not doing well? Put up a TV screen.

It’s very difficult for any venue or event to compete with the juggernaut of hockey marketing and hype. Restaurant bars seeking for scant revenues in a town with a median income lower than Windsor—we are Canada’s Detroit—will most often resort to profiting off that hockey fan market. Chronic lack of provincial/local contribution to the cultural realm doesn’t help counter any of this, in a town still noticeably suspicious of ideas and remarkably incurious about its own history. PR is key for arts non-profit culture just as it is for hockey etc., and it costs money. Money that arts organizations and restaurants don’t have because too much of their budget goes to rent.

Anyway, as a friend pointed out last week, if you’re looking to hang with guys who look like metrosexuals but who talk like hockey fans at megaphone volume about “kicking ass,” even when the game’s not on, it looks like you have about 55 choices.

Another friend joked about the map above, “The map is not yet entirely obscured by red. There’s still opportunity for growth in this sector.”

I’m not even going to go into the design of these places; but look.

Finally, I think you will enjoy this. (This Party Just Took A Turn For The Douche, by Garfunkel and Oates)

What I’d love to see on Google maps for Vancouver is a visual guide of every restaurant that contains no TV screen. And if you could add in a filter to exclude any place with fluorescent lighting, you’d really be getting something useful.

Photo below from UBC Thunderbird story about Sin Bin Sports Bar, restyled as sports bar after  nearby Olympic Village became ghost town post 2010. Look at that place. 

Sin Bin Sports Bar Vancouver

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2 Responses to “The steady creep of sports bars across Vancouver”

  1. Erica W. Says:

    And are they all like that? How can the city support so many of the same thing?

  2. Sidelines Says:

    Amen! This city and its sports bars and restaurant and coffee chains (and 7-11s!), very sad, if not infuriating. Vancouverites (many) like to think of the city as being world class. Well, if the current chain invasion continues unabated, it’ll surely remain not much more than a pretty but provincial town daydreaming of the big leagues.

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