Ballin’ On A Budget

Ballin’ on a Budget

The Full Downtown Fargo Experience Without the Full Downtown Fargo Price


Bars are fun; spending money at bars is not.

Many college students love experiencing Fargo’s nightlife by going to downtown Fargo bars, but are not always thrilled about spending a large sum of money on drinks. Regularly priced drinks can cost as little as $3.50 and as much as $10.

That brings up the question: “Is it possible to drink and have fun downtown without spending more than $20?”

Twenty bucks is our target amount because even poor college students can likely spare that much.

The answer to the question is “Absolutely.”

The key to bar-hopping downtown without breaking the bank is to be conscious of when and where the best drink specials occur.

Grading criteria: atmosphere and drink specials

Bars will be assigned a score ranging from zero to 10. The quality of the drink specials will be the main grading criteria, but the quality of atmosphere will also be taken into consideration.

Grading these bars is an expert panel of weekend-warriors composed of a college student and two recent graduates from Fargo-Moorhead universities. These three are downtown experts who have learned where the hotspots are for good, cheap drinks in a fun environment.

On the panel is MSUM student Kelsey Wolters and two recent MSUM graduates, Josh Hines and Harrison Rothfork. All three judges head downtown on a weekly basis. Their experience has given them the knowledge to pinpoint the best bar environments with the best drink specials.

Bar No. 1: The Old Broadway (OB)

Kelsey Wolters enjoys a Saturday night cocktail in downtown Fargo. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Wolters.

The Old Broadway is a 3-in-1 downtown staple on the corner of Broadway and Northern Pacific Avenue. Within the walls of the Old Broadway is the OB Sports Zone, OB Grill and OB Night Club.

The OB attracts college students on Friday and Saturday nights with its $1 “you-call-it” drink special and College Night drink specials. The $1 “you-call-its” run from 7-9 p.m. What this means is that within that time frame bottled beer, tap beer and mixed drinks each only $1.

After the first special ends, College Night kicks off, lasting from 9-11 p.m. During College Night, the OB offers for $2.75 any of these: 20-ounce tap beers, Captain Morgan drinks, Long Island iced teas, vodka energy drinks, Fireball, Windsor and more.

Considering its variety of drink specials, beginning at 7 p.m. and lasting until 11 p.m., the OB is a solid, budget-conscious option to start or end a Saturday night.

“OB generally has great drink specials,” says Wolters. “After turning 21, my Saturday nights began with pitcher specials at Sports Bar, but I would always go over to OB for their $2.75 Long Islands.”

The OB does have great drink specials, however, according to the panel of judges and interviewees, the atmosphere is lacking in comparison with other downtown places, such as Sports Bar.

OB’s overall score: 7.5

Bar No. 2: Rooter’s

John Miller (left) and Josh Hines (right) at Rooters on Broadway. Photo courtesy of Josh Hines.

Located north of the HoDo on Broadway, Rooter’s is another downtown destination for college students seeking a Saturday night deal. Rooter’s Saturday night special consists of $2 domestic tap beers (12 ounce) from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The expert judges’ consensus was that Rooter’s did not have the atmosphere of the other spots, however, Rooter’s tap beer deal lasts for four hours. If your plan is to stay in the same bar for the entire night, Rooter’s is a good option due to the length of the drink special and forms of entertainment, like its blackjack tables, pool tables and darts.  

Rooter’s overall score: 7

Bar No. 3: Sports Bar

Harrison Rothfork enjoying his time at Sports Bar in downtown Fargo. Photo courtesy of Harrison Rothfork.

Sports Bar, the mecca of downtown Fargo bars.

Located on Northern Pacific Ave between Wasabi and Fort Noks, Sports Bar has a good Saturday night drink special and, the judges say, the ideal atmosphere for a fun-filled night on the town.

Sports Bar’s Saturday night drink special is $4.25 per pitcher of beer from 7-10 p.m. The focus of this piece is weekends on the cheap, but Sports Bar also has half price domestic pitchers for Wednesday’s college night.

The weekend drink specials are a good deal, but the atmosphere is what keeps people coming back to Sports Bar.

“Sports Bar is usually where I start and end my night,” MSUM alum Josh Hines says. “Their deals are good, but even if they didn’t have the specials I would still go for the atmosphere.”

Rothfork also loves Sports Bar for the fun setting.

“Sports Bar is the most fun bar because every time I walk in it’s a happy environment,” Rothfork says. “It’s not fun just because people are drinking, but because everyone is nice and wants to have a good time.”

Rothfork also commented on the fast and friendly service, saying Sports Bar has “the best bartenders this side of the Mississippi.”

Sports Bar is edged out by the OB in terms of specials, but people love the loud, fun element it provides, earning it a nearly perfect score.

Sports Bar’s overall score: 9

The perfect night

After reviewing three of the bars with the best deals and most fun environments, what’s the judges formula for the most fun for the least amount of money on a Saturday night?

  1. Begin the evening at the OB for $1 drinks between 7 and 9 p.m.
  2. After $1 drinks end, head to Sports Bar, which should have a large crowd and you’ll have plenty of time to get a pitcher before the deal expires at 10 p.m.
  3. Finally, that  leaves the remainder of the evening for socializing at Sports Bar, which judges give highest marks for atmosphere.

Downtown Fargo is great. Saving money is great. Enjoying downtown Fargo while saving money is fantastic.

John Miller is a communication studies major and sports communications minor at MSUM set to graduate December 2017. He currently works as the sports editor at MSUM’s student newspaper, the Advocate, and as a sports clerk at the Fargo Forum. He aspires to write professionally about the NBA. Contact him at 

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