As we as a nation prepare to reopen our economy and get back to our normal lives, the sports world is also preparing to get back on its feet. Nationwide, venues are making preparations for the influx of people starving for competition. ESPN has had success carrying Korean baseball overnight and European soccer leagues while people look to get their sports fix. NASCAR and the UFC are both back without fans in attendance, while baseball and basketball are looking for a way to get their season in.
Locally, even our little leagues will have a summer without ball. For most, sports are our connection to others around us. It is very much a key social component for most families. There is even a whole branch of sociology dedicated to studying and understanding our connection to sports.
Locally, Jack and Jan Faulkner have a business that goes hand in hand with sports' social aspects. East End Sports Pub has been closed for two months as businesses shut down during the pandemic. As the sports world shut down, so did the venues where people gathered to enjoy them.
With plans already in place to transition to a smoke-free building, the Faulkners worked for the day that the community was allowed back in their venue. The most significant change is noticeable from the front door. The floors were deep cleaned, the walls had everything removed and were scrubbed, fresh paint went all around and East End is now smoke-free. It was the last place in the City of Paris that had indoor smoking, and with the change, Paris will now qualify as a smoke-free city.
In the last week, bars became some of the last businesses allowed to open under phase one. Even though they can only operate at 33% capacity, people have taken advantage. Tuesday night saw a capacity crowd, and business has been steady each day. The walls that were a blank canvas have also added to the social aspect of East End. One wall is dedicated to the history of local bars. For Jack, who worked in radio locally, the stage displays many photographs from an era when the biggest names in music visited the area. Six televisions and a projection screen allow for the sports viewing and the opening week blessed them with mid-week races and a weekend UFC fight.
The beer garden provides smokers with a place to step outside. There is an 80 ft deck and this fall will see a 200 square foot enclosure for those who smoke. Inside, selections of wine and champagne have been added. East End also features Arkansas craft beer and is partnering with another local business that has been hit hard from the pandemic, PrestonRose Beer Farm. Although still closed to visitors, PrestonRose is supplying East End with two of their beers for on tap and will be carrying four more in bottles soon.
Sports are coming back and so are the places where we gather to watch them. East End will host the finals of their pool tournament season that runs the first part of the year and when they do, it will be on new Diamond tournament style tables. Live music will return when they are allowed to go 100% capacity and along with that will be a grand reopening. East End is still a 21 and over venue, but the new atmosphere has already started meeting community and sports needs while also complying with social distancing.