• Please the Crowd and Host Your Meeting at a Sports Bar

    FROM THE Fall 2014 ISSUE
article reference: 

Want to make sure your guests have a ball at your next event? Consider these sports bars for a casual, relaxed atmosphere where no one will miss a single play.

Hockeytown Cafe, Detroit

Located in the heart of Detroit right across from Comerica Park and the Fox Theatre, Hockeytown Cafe is dedicated to all things Redwings, right down to the wingwheel carpeting.

The Celebration Room’s private bar serves 120 guests and features a huge collection of Red Wings memorabilia and décor. A built-in screen and portable projector are at the ready for presentations. The Roof Top allows up to 300 guests to be as close as they can get to the action without being inside the arena.

Hockeytown Cafe doesn’t accept reservations on game days unless it’s for a private party of 30 or more, so book in advance with Megan Warren, group sales and events manager.

Warren can create the perfect menu for your group, from a barbeque buffet to a self-service stir fry station. “We have lots of options,” she says. “We can go as casual or as formal as you want.”

GP Sports, Grand Rapids

Your group can cheer on its favorite team at GP Sports at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. The outdoor patio is an appealing warm-weather option, or host your event indoors where the open floor plan can seat as many as 250 people. In addition to 50-plus televisions throughout the space, a pool table provides friendly competition. Tammy Augustoni, general manager of GP Sports, suggests serving classic pub grub to complement the relaxed atmosphere. “You can never go wrong with wings,” she says.

Twelve Michigan-made beers are always on tap, along with a well-rounded wine list and full bar. Featured drinks rotate monthly, but the Adult Lemonade on Fridays is always a favorite. Choose from lemon, orange, raspberry, blueberry, cherry, cucumber lime, strawberry or grape, each spiked with flavored vodkas and liqueurs.

Peppino’s Pizza, Grand Rapids

Peppino’s Pizza, in downtown Grand Rapids, is a sports bar with a little extra polish and sophistication. Exposed brick walls and fireplaces provide a warm welcome. 

The spacious interior can host groups as large as 400, with intimate spaces for groups of 80 to 100, says Eric Tuinstra, franchise director. The Upper Deck features a shuffleboard court and pool tables, and a garage door can be dropped to create more privacy. A full range of audio-visual and multimedia equipment is available for presentations and entertainment.

The Italian-infused menu includes Pomodoro Bruschetta, fried ravioli and, of course, a variety of hand-crafted pizzas. The bar pours an assortment of locally brewed beers and offers a full cocktail list. Tuinstra and his team can arrange kosher, halal and gluten-free options to ensure your guests are well cared for.

Nemo’s, Detroit

Nemo’s is a Detroit classic. Maybe it’s the historic building, erected in 1883. Maybe it’s the legacy: Nemo’s has been owned and operated by the Springstead family for 50 years. Maybe it’s the way the place is packed with familiar faces on game day. Or maybe it’s the juicy burgers, consistently voted among the city’s best.

Whatever it is, Nemo’s is a great choice for a casual meeting or event. With patio seating, this downtown sports bar can seat up to 200. Parking isn’t an issue thanks to two parking lots. Shuttles are available to Wings, Lions and Tigers games and to the occasional concert at Comerica Park.

Pat Osman, Nemo’s general manager, has hosted charity parties for the Special Olympics, along with outings for local manufacturers and fan clubs. “We’re easy to work with,” he says. “Our customers have been coming for the last 50 years, so we must be doing something right.”

Spartan Hall of Fame Cafe, East Lansing

The Spartan Hall of Fame Cafe prides itself on going beyond the usual.

“We’re more than a sports bar—I like to call us a sports restaurant,” says Steve Montanye, the cafe’s general manager. The menu emphasizes his point, with entrees like caramelized salmon and bourbon chicken.

The restaurant’s open layout feels airy, and the extensive collection of Michigan State University banners, jerseys, helmets and memorabilia will delight alumni and fans.

Two banquet rooms can be combined to seat 100 guests. The private Spartan Room and semiprivate Duffy Daugherty room both feature plasma televisions for meeting aids or background ambiance. A portable microphone is also available for events.

The time is right; the stage is set. Groups are ready to meet face to face again, and the four-star luxury hotel MGM Grand Detroit is ready to welcome you back.

According to MPI’s report “Spring 2021 Meetings Outlook,” three-quarters of meeting professionals predict a face-to-face event this calendar year. And that definitely rings true for Lisa Williams, executive director of sales for the hotel.


“Cannabis can have a presence in the dinner entrées and the desserts at an event. One of our panel experts from the event, Chef Sunflower [aka Enid Parham], plans the meals with ‘microdoses’ of cannabis so there is not too much consumed at one time,” says Connie Seibt, event manager and vice president of programs and education, ILEA Detroit. “It should be planned ahead for the type of cannabis to infuse in the foods, i.e. providing a relaxing mood versus high energy.


Congratulations to the finalists for Michigan Meetings + Events Best of 2020 readers’ choice awards. We look forward to celebrating with each of you at the awards celebration on Thursday, May 28, at the Gem Theatre in Detroit.

*Connect with us on social media before, during and after the awards with the hashtag #MIBestof

Best A.V Provider

AVL Creative
KLA Laboratories

Best Brewery/Distillery/Winery

Atwater Brewery
Bell’s Brewery
Founders Brewing Co.