When football season rolls around, undoubtedly people get excited. College football. Fantasy football. Monday Night Football. Even if non-fans, the football season seems to matter. If you’re a bar owner, then it holds more weight than ever, as profits and revenue can be enhanced by a game-day crowd. As teams hit the field, guests hit the bar, and a good bar owner knows how to capitalize on it. And The Pony Chicago understands just how important a strong sports crowd is.
This year, bar owner Mark Domitrovitch has partnered with the University of Kentucky alumni association, making the Pony is the go-to spot for UK alum and football fans alike. And this partnership was just the start of a slew of football promotions scheduled throughout the season.
To kickoff the football season, the Pony hosted an Appreciation Party on Thursday, August 16, for Wildcat alumni, where complimentary pizza and draft beer will be offered from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. during a University of Kentucky-themed team trivia; prizes include Kentucky apparel, game tickets, an Anthony Davis Olympic jersey and a free two-hour UK Game Day Party for up to 20 people.
Getting involved with the UK alumni association came about almost as a whim. “They were at another bar before, and they approached us,” Domitrovitch explains. The association gave the Pony a chance to try it out, and the rest is history, he said.
The UK crowd usually takes over the main floor, and whenever fans travel to Chicago from Kentucky, they come to visit the Pony. “We’re fairly well known in Chicago and Kentucky … People just know,” he says.
Domitrovitch explains that working with an alumni association is mutually beneficial. The alumni have a place to cheer on their favorite college team, and the Pony knows it will have a packed house. The Pony “always tries to offer specials and deals,” he says. “We try to work as close as possible with them. We meet with them before the season starts and plan big events or something exciting.”
The Pony will raffle off UK jerseys and give away tickets and special prizes. It’s an added bonus, Domitrovitch says.
Upcoming events include the Pony’s Kentucky versus Lousiville pregame party on Sunday, September 2. For $15, guests will enjoy mimosas, Bloody Marys, Miller Lite and Coors Light drafts and Pony Punch.“Louisville is the biggest rival,” he says, so the tailgate party “will drive a lot of interest.”
“The bigger the game, the more people you see … the greater the interest,” he adds.
By promoting sports, The Pony reaps the benefits. Any sporting event, Domitrovitch says, can be a bonus, especially being around others rooting for the same team. There’s “camaraderie no matter what. They want to watch their team with other people around. They high five and have a good time.”
By associating with a college football team, it gives the Pony something to promote around. “We’re sports driven and it’s what we do. There is plenty of competition out there,” Domitrovitch reminds.
From showing NHL Blackhawks games and Chicago Bears football games, The Pony caters to sports fans from all walks of life. “All things sports we’ll do.” Although these games are lucrative, “it’s not always a windfall,” he says. And yet, “it’s worth putting it out there. You’ll get some extra bodies out there.”