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Northland bars ‘hopeful’ as MLB sees possible start-up

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DULUTH, MN. -- Baseball fans received some good news yesterday, as Major League Baseball announced a loose plan to hold games without fans starting on the weekend of July 4th.

But with no fans in the stands, bars are hopeful that this could be the sign that they re-open sooner rather than later.

"Sports are huge, they drive business into your bar all the time," said Adam Bailey, owner of The Jack.

As bars across the Northland remain closed due to 'Stay at Home' orders, owners are hopeful this could be a sign of good things to come.

"We are hoping the 26th they will let us have at least a third of our business back. We can put tables and chairs here and there. People can go outside, we have a big outside area where people can go," said Sandy Steffan, TJ's Champions Lounge Manager.

Steffan said they have lost about 90% of their business since they closed their doors in March, but if re-opened, they are already discussing plans to accommodate for baseball fans.

"We are going to tailgate, have tailgate parties right here in the parking lot, outside, wherever we can, if we can have that many people," added Steffan.

TJ's Champions Bar in Superior isn't the only Northland bar hopeful that the return of baseball means the return of business.

"Whether or not there is fans there, there is going to be staff there, there is going to be people there. They are going to have a number of people there working on the facilities. So if they are going to have those numbers of people there, there's no reason that we can't open and do and provide a safe environment for our customers," added Bailey.

Like most businesses around the Northland, Bailey has used this down time to do projects on their business. Bailey has done a complete face-lift of The Jack, he says to give the bar a more sports feel to it.

"Our silver lining is we are re-branding to more of a sports theme here. We are trying to invest a little bit of money into our business so we are hoping that with the opening of Major League Baseball, that we can use that re-brand to drive some business to our bars," said Bailey.

Major League Baseball and the players union did meet Tuesday but the MLB did not make an economic proposal. Discussions are expected to continue.

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Ryan Compeau

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