The Ultimate Sports Bar is getting closer to reopening on May 1. Photo credit: Tim Speier
Written by: Joseph Bahr
As May 1, approaches many of us will be looking forward to summer, shorts, and warm weather. For Tom Frericks, owner of the Ultimate Sports Bar, in St. Cloud, that day represents the payoff of 15 months of work and rebuilding.
Frericks has owned and operated the Ultimate Sports bar for 34 years. It had become a pillar in the community with many watch parties for local teams and a popular destination to watch the Huskies in the NCAA hockey tournament. Frericks’ Bar would burn down on March 30, 2020.
“It was incredible. Defiantly unparalleled to anything else we have in town,” said Brandon Hale, a patron who said The Ultimate Sports Bar. “It was my favorite bar in town.”
The bar was forced to close on March 17 when the state mandated all non-essential business to close. The fire took place 13 days later.
“It turned out that there was an electrical issue in the back wall of the original part of the building that was around 100-years-old,” said Frericks.
2020 was a difficult year for all small businesses. Many small businesses were forced to close their doors, unsure if they when or if they were going to reopen.
The idea that missing the majority of 2020 was possibly a blessing in disguise.
“It was a catch-22,” sharedFrericks. “I was blessed to miss everything that my industry dealt with in 2020 but I also had to convince people that financing an investment of this magnitude (two-million-dollars) was a good investment for them.”
Many state governments in addition to the federal government were quick to help through the CARES Act of 2020. This help came in the form of payroll protections loan and small business loans.
Frericks’ feels that while there was help available, “it was not nearly enough to compensate for what and how long we had to be shut down for.”
Many of these protections came in the form of loans that are going to be needed to be paid back.
“This was nothing more than a short-term fix,” Frericks said.
The decision to rebuild was an immediate choice.
“I was 57 when my bar burned, I am too young to retire and too old to work for anyone else,” said Frericks.
The magnitude of the decision to rebuild was not lost on Frericks. After 34 years of owning and operating his bar, he saw this as an opportunity to rebuild his dream bar. Frericks has taken control of the construction as well. He is the lead general contractor, ensuring his bar is built to his dream. When the doors open in May 1, patrons will notice some considerable add-ons while maintaining the feel of the old place.
“We are building an axe throwing pit inside the bar and we also renovated our whole exterior where our deck used to be, and we are making a three-seasons porch and added outdoor fire pit tables as well,” said Frericks. “We also put a 10-foot sliding glass window in the bar and when it opens up there’s a bar that slides eight-feet to the exterior so we can have an exterior bar area as well.”
None of this is to take away from the sports bar environment that has been established. There will still be 70 televisions for the sports fan.
Support from the local community was instrumental in the decision to rebuild.
“One of the decisions to help me rebuild was the incredible support of the community as a whole has for what you poured your heart and soul in to for 34-years,” said Frericks.
That level of community supports spills into the sports as well. As with any sports bar when local teams do well, many people will watch the games at their preferred watering hole. Frericks certainly feels there was a missed opportunity as the Huskies are making their way to the Frozen Four.
“Watching the Huskies, you can’t help but think how packed your bar would have been,” said Frericks.
“Being able to build this the way I wanted it has been really cool,” said Frericks.
After 15 months of planning and construction Frericks, like the rest of us, is looking forward to summer. The crack of the bat, laughing with friends and the sounds of axes being thrown into targets will be the norm at the new Ultimate Sports Bar.