Written by Josue Santiago Thursday, 14 January 2010 00:00
It’s not very often that we’re out and about at one of our favorite hot spots and ask the cutie standing next to us, “Hey, how about them Dolphins?” Sports is usually not a topic that comes up for many of us. However, it doesn’t mean that we don’t have a passion for it. That’s where Sidelines Sports Bar comes in. As the brainchild of Laurie Whittaker and Marty Kildea, this great establishment, which started as novel idea, has proven to be quite mainstream, filling a huge gap in the local GLBT community and bringing us together with our straight allies. I recently sat down with Jennifer Morales, Director of Marketing and Communications, and Laurie’s very dedicated partner, to discuss the history of Sidelines and its future.
How did it all begin? Whose idea was it to open up a sports bar? Why was it done?
The idea of a gay sports bar began with Laurie and Marty when they were teammates in a Tuesday night pool league. While Laurie, a sports fanatic since she was a child, and Marty, growing up in the cold Midwest and the land of hockey fans, the “gay sports” idea was quite a novelty to them and their friends. Yet, they forged ahead with developing the concept and bringing it to fruition on May 12, 2006.
The reason for Sidelines was because Laurie and Marty wanted to offer a fun and friendly place for folks to come, where they could sit with friends, discuss the day’s events, watch their favorite sport or team play, root and cheer, all without any drama or awkwardness.
Why the name "Sidelines"?
The name Sidelines was Laurie’s idea. She wanted to portray an involvement with the games, not just from the spectator’s point of view, but from the sidelines, closer to the field.
Why is it important for Sidelines to be a community partner?
While Sidelines is a for-profit business, without the LGBT community, we would not be enjoying the fruits of our labor and thus we depend on the community for its support. So, it goes hand-in-hand that we must support the community. We believe in giving back to those whom have shown us the love.
What are some of the charitable organizations/events that Sidelines has supported?
Over the years, Sidelines has contributed both financially and with its time to many charitable organizations and events. We have worked with the SMART Ride, the Florida AIDS Walk, Poverello Center, the Cooperative Feeding Center, Pridefest, the Stonewall Street Festival, Tuesdays Angels and many more.
Looking back, what are some memorable moments in Sidelines history?
There seems to be a special meaning to all of us at Sidelines when an anniversary comes to pass because it gives us a moment of reflection and emotion on all our hard work. That sense of accomplishment is heartfelt as a team and on a very personal level. Another memorable experience was when we were chosen for WSVN-7’s “Deco Drive”. Going mainstream has brought us a lot of positive attention, as well as some new customers.
Presently, what do you feel makes Sidelines stand out from other clubs/bars?
It comes down to the same ideas we began with and sticking to them no matter what. Sidelines is a place that offers friendly service and quality entertainment in clean, bright and comfortable surroundings that is on par with many mainstream establishments. So relaxed that our LGBT customers feel comfortable to bring and share Sidelines with their families.
Looking forward, what exciting and upcoming changes can we expect?
We are constantly looking for new things to offer our patrons. We look forward to growing our business and making our community stronger and better.