The new Sports Bar still looks Original


Baltimore Original Sports Bar

Where: 34 Market Place.

Hours: 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Mondays to Fridays, noon-2 a.m. Saturdays, noon-midnight Sundays.

Menu: Nachos, soft pretzels, Buffalo wings, pizza, onion rings, hot dogs, burgers and other stadium fare.

Credit cards: AE, MC, V.

Call: 244-0135.

Unlike many theme bars, where the owners' wacky imagination is limited by modest square footage, the Baltimore Original Sports Bar has never been limited in either sports mania or floor space.

Able to accommodate almost 1,000 patrons, this Market Place sports mecca has held its own while larger neighbors -- like the Power Plant and the Fish Market -- went belly up.

The sports bar recently decided that after nearly four years of heavy-duty use, it was time for some renovations to take it "away from the warehouse look and make it look more like a clubhouse at home," according to promotions director Brian Taylor.

Patron surveys indicated the sports club's fans wanted more waiter service and less walk-up where the stadium fare menu is concerned, and in general wanted yet more interactive games in a club already crammed full of video and pop-a-shot contraptions.

The sports-minded love numbers and so they'll want to know that $100,000 was spent on dozens of new games. Judging from last weekend's reopening bash, the most popular of the games seems to be a "Batter Up" cage in which you can swing away with a plastic bat and hope to send the automatically pitched ball into home run heaven.

Also on the spruce-up front, the bar added 300 new pieces of sports-related memorabilia to its walls.

Leaving aside the semantic puzzler of what it means to be a new Original Sports Bar, it has to be said that for all the money spent, you may conclude that this immense place looks pretty much the same as before.

The change that is easiest to notice seems ill-conceived. Installing a black-and-white tile floor in a section of the bar was part of the effort to make a warehouse-sized room seem more like a club, but the result comes across as -- you guessed it -- a nightclub floor in a warehouse.

Still, you can't help smiling when you learn that the promotional zanies here are already planning a "human checkers" contest on those black-and-white squares. Remember, these are the guys who gave us human bowling competitions.

Other promotional events include spring break indoor volleyball games, a co-ed grab for cash, and a Mikhail Gorbachev birthday bash with a prize for the best birthmark.

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