Brian Ching has been seeking a venture that brings him excitement – as he puts it, a purpose that inspires him “gets [him] out of bed” – and he believes he’s found it in the form of a 25,000-square-foot warehouse kitty-corner to BBVA Compass Stadium.
Ching’s vision for a soccer bar goes beyond the basic equation of beers and TVs. There will be those, of course – Ching promises more than 100 beers on tap and a full complement of TVs tuned to games around the world, starting with European league matches in the early morning hours of the weekends.
But there will also be a giant, walled-in outdoor beer garden making up about the half the venue, able to seat 1,000 people or more. The outdoor space, which will even include trees, the potential for being a live music venue as well as a gathering spot during the more temperate months of the year.
There’s also an indoor soccer pitch being built inside the venue, about the size of a regulation basketball court, suitable for 3-on-3 or 4-on-4 games –which players can sign up for via a league Pitch 25 will launch as soon as the bar is open for business.
“It’s a big space, and what we wanted to do was to make it appeal to everybody,” Ching says. “Families, soccer players, and beer lovers.”
Ching still works with the Dynamo organization as a brand ambassador, wearing many hats for both the Dynamo and its NWSL counterpart, the Dash, but this month’s Pitch 25 announcement is merely a step in the process Ching’s taken over the past 18 months – starting with scouting the neighborhood around the stadium for the right spot – to add “soccer bar owner” to his list of titles.
Though Pitch 25 might sound a bit cryptic, the naming of the bar was fairly straightforward: Pitch was chosen to communicate soccer (as well as the presence of an actual, small pitch within the complex), and 25 comes from the jersey number Ching has worn throughout his career—allowing him to put his personal stamp on it without using his name. “I’m not big about throwing my name on things,” he says. “I feel a bit weird about that. I thought 25 was a good compromise; Dynamo fans know me as number 25.”
Ching envisions Pitch 25 as having a game-day role for fans to gather before the match – there’s currently a March to the Match with the El Batallon supporters’ group that originates across the street at the King’s Court Bar, involving about 200 fans. Ching sees potential for Pitch 25 to make that march bigger.
There’s also a way for fans to get involved even before the bar opens – currently, through the Nextseed investment crowdfunding platform, an investor can contribute as little as $100 toward Ching’s $250,000 goal to fund construction and startup costs, and get a 1.5x return on the investment, by sharing a percentage of the bar’s monthly gross revenue, per terms on the site.
Though Ching sees Pitch 25 as a destination for soccer fans, he also sees it as a contributor to the growing hub of bars building on the revitalization of Houston’s EaDo neighborhood that the building of BBVA Compass Stadium helped jump-start.
And, though Ching sees Pitch 25 filling a need in a diverse city with multiple soccer allegiances, it’s not just for soccer lovers. Its proximity to Minute Maid Park makes it a possible pre-game and post-game destination for Astros fans rooting for the World Series champs as they begin their title defense next spring. It’s also within a mile of Toyota Center, where the NBA’s Rockets play.
“We’ll definitely be watching all the Houston sports teams here,” Ching says. “We’d love to have Astros fans and even players in here. Maybe they want to be a part of it.”