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Meeting the demand: The Sports Garden transitions from nightclub to wedding venue

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DULUTH, MN-- As gathering restrictions start to loosen, postponed events like weddings are filling up 2021 calenders.

Couples are trying to reschedule, like Katy Sutton of Cloquet and her fiancé Nick. They've been together for six years.

"We planned a somewhat long engagement," said Sutton. "We thought about 2-ish years, but we didn't expect for it to hit three."

Their wedding at Clyde Iron Works was originally scheduled for last May, but due to the pandemic, it was pushed to December and then finally to August. They had to compete with other couples for the venue's final open date in 2021.

"We wanted to have the full big wedding. A lot of people have decided to do small, intimate ceremonies with just immediate friends, but that just wasn't us," said Sutton.

Sutton and her fiancé are not the only ones making last-minute changes. Due to the increased demand for event space as pandemic restrictions loosen, places like The Sports Garden in Canal Park are rebranding, turning the well-known nightclub into a wedding venue.

"We know that there is such a pent-up demand for spaces, wedding spaces, reception spaces, all those sorts of things, and we kinda saw a hole in the market," said Tony Bronson, Director of Business Development for the Grandma's Restaurant Company.

After sitting empty for the past year, owners decided it was time for a change.

The space will now go under a new name of "The Garden" and will offer groups a chance to rent out the large space.

"It's interesting that it was COVID that caused us to kinda get restricted out of business, but it also gave us the chance to reimagine the space. So, it's really because of COVID that we are transitioning into this new venue," said Bronson.

Bronson hopes this new venue will be useful to people looking to rebook those postponed 2020 events.

Sutton is just hoping the third time is a charm.

"Still fingers crossed that this time it will work out. Either way, I think we will get married, even if it has to be a small ceremony, but I don't think that will happen this time around," she said.

Bronson said they are hoping to have The Garden open by May.

If you would like information on how to book, click here.

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Natalie Grant

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