New NDSU sports bar doubles as school television studio

FARGO, N.D. (AP) With North Dakota State enjoying a stretch of four straight national football titles since it moved up to Division I athletics, a group of NDSU athlete alumni decided it was time for Bison Nation to have a new sports bar.

The Herd & Horns bar and restaurant comes with something special: Lights, camera and action. A portable TV studio of sorts will serve as a real-world laboratory for the school’s broadcast journalism students to learn how to do live sports talk shows and conduct interviews with players and coaches. The first show is scheduled to air in two weeks.

Rich Lodewyk, broadcast program director for the Bison Information Network, the school’s TV studio, said the arrangement should benefit both his students and the customers.

”This is going to be fun for the people who are having lunch and dinner there to witness a student-produced television show, and it gives our students great experience to learn about doing broadcast productions offsite,” Lodewyk said.

The set is cleverly disguised as a long high-top table and chairs in the front corner of the bar. Slide some of the chairs aside in favor of a soundboard, TV monitor, wireless connections and mounted bright lights – and suddenly, it’s show time.

”All they have to do is plop their cameras in and they can do a show,” said Brent Tehven, a former NDSU football and one of six owners.

NDSU senior Nate Manning, the director of the school’s TV network, said he expects die-hard fans will appreciate the added information from the sports programming and other campus-related shows.

”I don’t really go to bars all that often but I can see how it’s really going to add to the atmosphere,” Manning said.

Students who aren’t yet 21 don’t have to worry about not missing an opportunity to test out their sports journalism skills: The restaurant is all-ages, although one must be of age to sit at the bar.

The owners are hoping that the broadcast productions – which will eventually include local TV, radio and newspaper personalities – will help attract a big, diverse crowd.

”A Division I school deserves a Division I sports bar,” Tehven said, noting Herd & Horns will be a mellower place to watch games than some of the other bars closest to campus.

As sports bars go, the interior of the 4,000-square-foot establishment doesn’t resemble the usual museum atmosphere with framed jerseys, neon signs and other memorabilia. The owners preferred a clean look provided by corrugated metal, reclaimed wood and brick walls. Tehven jokes that one of the owners, former NDSU All-American punter Mike Dragosavich, who came up with the idea of serving beer at the bar out of a Bison horn, has a jersey hanging in another sports bar in town and they don’t want to ask for it back.

There are, however, two lighted signs in the corner that will show the same message at broadcast time: On Air.