Denver is getting its first women’s sports bar

Owners of the 99ers — named for the 1999 U.S. soccer team that won the World Cup — hope to start serving Denver sports fans in June.
5 min. read
Miranda Spencer (left) and Annie Weaver, the duo behind The 99ers, a new Colfax Avenue bar that will exclusively focus on women’s sports. April 1, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Annie Weaver can recall the many times she has sat at a sports bar watching a women’s sports game on her phone while men’s sports played on the TVs above.

Recently, she was turned down at a bar when she asked to switch one TV to watch the Iowa State women play in the March Madness tournament.

That’s why she is in the process of opening the 99ers, which will be Denver’s first sports bar devoted to women’s sports. Alongside her business partner Miranda Spencer, the two hope to open at 909 E. Colfax Ave. by June, just in time to catch the summer Olympics.

“That was something we bonded over very quickly when we first met, was visibility of women's sports and women in sports and women being successful in that world,” Weaver said. “It wasn’t shown, wasn't streamed, wasn't really highlighted. There was definitely a very big gap there. It's getting smaller, it's still not there yet.”

The 99ers founders Miranda Spencer (right) and Annie Weaver stand in the future site of their Colfax Avenue sports bar. April 1, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The 99ers is a part of a growing movement of women’s sports bars across the country, kicked off by the Sports Bra, which opened in Portland in 2022. Similar bars have opened or are in progress in California, New York City, Seattle and elsewhere across the U.S.

And the bars come as interest in women’s sports is growing quickly, after decades of paltry investment compared to men’s sports. Just ask Iowa Hawkeye Caitlin Clark — tickets to the women’s Final Four March Madness games are currently selling for more on the secondary market than tickets to the men’s Final Four.

Women’s sports bars have shown signs of financial success as well; in 2023, the Sports Bra reported bringing in $1 million in eight months.

Now, Weaver and Spencer want Denver to get in on the action.

The 99ers co-founder Miranda Spencer walks down into the tiny, hidden basement in the future site of her Colfax Avenue sports bar. April 1, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The bar will be open to everyone, but unlike most other sports bars, it will focus on broadcasting women’s sports.

The 99ers is named after the 1999 U.S. women’s soccer team, which won the World Cup and was seen as an iconic moment for women’s sports in the country, leading to the first professional women’s soccer league in the U.S.

Weaver — whose all-time favorite athlete is Mia Hamm — was a 6-year-old soccer player at the time (Spencer’s favorite athlete is Sue Bird).

“I remember watching it just because it was so different. I grew up watching men's basketball because that's what my dad watched and that's all there was … Watching that 1999 Women's World Cup and finally seeing women be successful in sports and people celebrating, that was huge,” Weaver said. “It gave us somebody to look up to that wasn't a man.”

The future site of The 99ers, a new Colfax Avenue bar that will exclusively focus on women's sports. April 1, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

The owners hope the bar will be a place where other people can watch the sports stars they look up to. 

Down the line, the two see the bar sponsoring the flag football team Spencer founded and where she and Weaver met (growing up, Spencer played on boys football and ice hockey teams in Idaho). They hope a professional women’s sports league will come to Denver so they can sponsor that too. 

The owners imagine the bar as a place to watch sports that feels more welcoming than many sports bars typically full of men. Weaver and Spencer also see themselves creating space for Denver’s LGBTQ community.

“The intimidation factor of going into a bar, as a woman, I would watch the sports at home,” Spencer said. “Being two women, two queer women in this space, is also speaking volumes as well in terms of inclusivity and just empowering one another, showing other people that they can do this.”

The future site of The 99ers, a new Colfax Avenue bar that will exclusively focus on women's sports. April 1, 2024.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

For now, the pair are in construction mode.

The location on Colfax used to be a barber shop, so Weaver and Spencer have a lot of work to do before the space can function as a bar. Both owners still have their day jobs, Spencer at an electric company and Weaver in insurance, but Weaver plans to go full-time at the bar once it’s open. Neither have run a business before.

As for construction, it’s a community effort. They are hiring professionals for electric and plumbing but working on things like drywall themselves with the help of friends. Spencer’s wife is painting one of the walls.

“When we get done with our day jobs we come here and spend all night working at the bar and then pretty much the whole weekend,” Weaver said. “This is bigger than ourselves. We just are fortunate enough to be the ones who are making it happen in Denver.”

The two plan to open in June, and in the meantime, are gaining traction on social media. Asked how they hope the bar will look at 10 p.m. on a Friday night this summer, Weaver and Spencer had the same answer: “Packed.”

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