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Nightlife- Sports Bars 

by Ted S. McGregor Jr

Players & amp; Spectators

12828 E. Sprague * 924-5141

"Dude, didn't they used to have, like, a basketball court in here?" "Yeah, like right over there."

So sayeth two nightlifers upon entering Players and Spectators recently, apparently for the first time in a while. And when you get inside this behemoth building out in the Valley off Pines Road, you can see how there would be room for a basketball court -- and a couple handball courts, to boot. It's a massive nightspot buzzing with all kinds of activity.

It's not entirely fair to call it a sports bar -- P & amp;S has so much more going on that that. But in the bar area, you won't miss the game, as dozens of TVs are strategically placed. And during halftime or even after the game is over, there's a ton to do. You can play, spectate -- or, if you're really feeling good, do both.

Players and Spectators features a full-on casino, with a separate poker room; it's got 24 lanes of bowling; there's a pizza room for the kids, complete with video and arcade games; there's a giant banquet room with pool tables; a restaurant; a giant bar with a fireside room; there's even a room for karaoke, if your evening comes to that. It's such a labyrinth, they even have a big map in the lobby that helps you navigate this all-ages playground.

Nice Touch: The hall of heroes, featuring original paintings of some of the sports world's all-time greats, like Jim Thorpe and Pele.

The Swinging Doors

1018 W. Francis Ave. * 326-6794

It's not surprising that the Zags fill the seats at the Swinging Doors; owner Bob Materne Jr. is an alumnus of GU. The doors have been a-swinging on Francis for 24 years this May, and inside you'll find 60 TVs. If you find yourself on the roof -- and if you do, you really need a designated driver -- you'll see the 14 satellite dishes that have allowed this tavern to broadcast every NFL game for the past decade. Swinging Doors is also known for its food -- especially its broasted chicken. On Super Bowl Sunday, along with a beer garden under a tent in the parking lot, they'll be cookin' up Cajun food just for the occasion.

Heroes & amp; Legends

825 W. Riverside Ave. * 747-4956

If you like sports and electronic toys, Heroes & amp; Legends is your place. Flat screens and plasma TVs are all over the place here -- even in the bathrooms, so you won't miss a play. A couple of tables offer Internet access, and cool little speakerboxes allow you to tune in the audio on any game you see on the screens around the room. Food is old-school, with burgers, fries and steaks on the menu. Heroes & amp; Legends expanded last year, and now they have room for banquets and bigger crowds for Cougar football and the Zags. And with its downtown location, it's a great hangout for even after the game gets over.

Steve's Sports Dugout

1910 E. Seltice Way, Post Falls * (208) 773-4852

For 15 years, Steve Parker has been providing the North Idaho sports-loving masses with dugout all their own -- from 6 am to 2 am, seven days a week. Their specialty is breakfast, served all day and all night long. And there are always part specials; for the Super Bowl, Steve's giving away a boatload of beer-emblazoned merchandise. He's recently added three high-def flat screens into his mix of 16 TVs. For big events, like the Super Bowl or the Daytona 500, Steve takes reservations, so call ahead if you think it'll be packed.

The Screaming Yak

118 W. Francis Ave. * 464-3641

A wild and crazy name always packs 'em in, and the Screaming Yak on the North Side has one of the best. The sports bar the Wild Weasel on the South Hill is close, but guess what -- it's owned by the same guys behind the Screaming Yak. Turns out, these guys were inspired by a dive bar back in North Dakota where they went to college. With its location near the softball fields at Franklin Park, the Yak is a favorite among jocks looking for a tall, cool one. To keep the thirst up, they have 14 different flavors of hot wings.

Others Worth Checking Out

The Red Lion; the Season Ticket; Jack & amp; Dan's;

O'Malley's in Rathdrum; Double Dribble

Publication date: 2/03/05

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