Michigan Roots in NOLA

October, 2016

The University of Michigan football team just scores another touchdown, the bell is rang and the University of Michigan’s fight song ‘The Victors’  blasts through the speakers. The proud cheering alumi clap with enthusiasm and sing the words,

Hail! To the victors, valiant,

Hail! To the conqu'ring heroes

Hail! Hail! To Michigan the leaders and best

Hail! To the victors, valiant,

Hail! To the conqu'ring heroes

Hail! Hail! To Michigan the champions of the West!

We cheer them again,

We cheer and cheer again,

For Michigan,

We cheer for Michigan,

We cheer with might - and main -

We cheer, cheer, cheer with might and main we cheer, O!

This description sounds like a scene in a sports bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan. On the contrary, this is a typical college football Saturday afternoon at the Prytania Bar in uptown New Orleans.

The Prytania Bar’s proprietor Pete Syverson said that the idea for the University of Michigan came from U of M alum Valerie Bowles (who currently resides in Lafayette, LA.). In 2015, she asked Mr Syverson if he could host U of M sporting events. At first Mr. Syverson was skeptical, but trusted her to bring in the crowds and spread the word, which she did, and so, a year later, Prytania Bar became the official University of Michigan bar.

Apart from the distance, the bar proprietor and the U of M alum still keep in touch on a regular basis.  Mr. Syverson with the help of Ms Bowles promotes events on University of Michigan Alumni official event page. Mr. Syverson credits the event page and social media in getting the word out to Michigan fans who live here or those on vacation just looking to root for Big Blue when they're in town.

Ms. Bowles said that 3 years ago she felt like she was the only person who wanted to watch the University of Michigan football team at a bar and wanted to bring other alumi together so she and other U of M fans wouldn’t feel like strangers in a new city.  Prytania Bar is just one of a handful of local havens that doesn’t strictly cater to SEC fans.

Mr. Syverson notes that the U of M alums wants to support local business while enjoying a unique camaraderie and wanted to gather at a place that welcomed them.  He saw this as an opportunity to start a tradition and at the same time solidify Prytania Bar’s ability to cater to the Michigan crowd because they tout one of the largest alumni group in the country.

The alums of the University of Michigan feel at home in Prytania Bar, especially when the jukebox is playing music with Michigan roots; friends are sharing their disdain for their bitter rival Ohio State or talking about their transition from the chill of the Midwest to the humidity of southeast Louisiana.  This is how a sports bar in New Orleans became a haven for people who root for Big Blue.


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