‘Hopefully, a very busy season for us’: Neighboring bar welcomes fans with new Kernels season
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - After more than 600 days without a game, the Cedar Rapids Kernels’ new season was welcomed by the team, by the more than 2,000 fans in attendance on Opening Night on Tuesday, and by the business right across the street from Veterans Memorial Stadium, the aptly named Stadium Bar and Grill.
“I think it’s going to be a really busy season for them, and hopefully, a very busy season for us,” said Jordan Caviness, one of Stadium’s owners and operators.
Caviness said last year brought its challenges, with both Veterans Memorial Stadium and ImOn Ice Arena next door, home to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, hosting zero games and bringing in zero fans.
Stadium usually sees a swell of customers before and sometimes after games.
“Extremely slower than it would typically be with all sports going on,” Caviness said.
Then the Aug. 10 derecho hit.
The storm tore holes in the roof of ImOn Ice Arena, ripped damage through Veterans Memorial Stadium that crews were repairing just weeks before Opening Day, and didn’t spare Stadium Bar and Grill either.
“We had some structural damage with our entrances and exits,” Caviness said. “We had our roof blown off. We had water on the inside, so we were hit pretty hard.”
Now with repairs made, including a new floor, Stadium Bar and Grill just reopened in late March, in time to get back in the swing of things for baseball season.
“Every once in a while, we’d send a message over to the Kernels’ front office — ‘Hey, what do you know? Can we get some inside information?’ And slowly but surely, we started getting information that, yes, there’s going to be fans, it may be limited,” Caviness said. “But we’re just excited that they’re letting people come watch the games.”
On Tuesday, Stadium Bar and Grill held a pregame party to welcome baseball back to Cedar Rapids and welcome back Kernels fans with specials.
Shannon Appleby of Anamosa, who was headed to the season opener, said it’s a spot he likes to visit before first pitch.
“A lot of times, we come to the Stadium before the games, just to kind of do a little bit of pregaming, have a few drinks, get some snacks and stuff into us,” he said.
He and fans like Doug Rassler of Palo said Tuesday was a day they had been eagerly awaiting.
“This is amazing,” Rassler said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”
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