The revamped Downtown Sports Exchange is making a comeback

ON NIGHTLIFE

October 19, 2006|By SAM SESSA

After sitting empty for a good chunk of baseball season, the Downtown Sports Exchange is back open with new owners and a fresh interior.

DSX, a longtime pre- and post-game spot for sports fans, quietly re-opened this month after closing suddenly in June. Co-owner Art Masoero and his partners pumped some money into the place, and, for the most part, it pays off.

I never spent much time at the old DSX, but the new DSX feels cleaner and slightly sharper than most bars nearby. The bar is topped with tile, not wood, and the stiff chairs pulled up to it are made of red metal.

"We're not Wharf Rat pub," Masoero said. "They've got a little different ambience over there."

The new owners beefed up DSX with a new digital jukebox, a Bose surround-sound system, Golden Tee 2007 and several new flat-screen TVs. They also brightened it up with a fresh coat of white paint and better lighting.

DSX is one of a few bars -- possibly the first -- in the city to have the new Golden Tee. I haven't seen it anywhere else around town and was shocked to find it at DSX. Masoero said they're going to install some more arcade games alongside it in the near future.

Though the digital jukebox fits in well, I question its selections. When I was there one recent Saturday night, a Backstreet Boys song was playing, which, in any sports bar, is an abomination.

While the new lighting is great during the day, at night DSX needs to be a little darker inside. A couple of weeks ago, the lights were too bright, which made the place feel more like a bathroom than a bar. But that's easy to fix and an understandable mistake, considering the bar is still getting its bearings.

The first floor is open all day, and the second floor is used to handle overflow. Masoero said he hopes to renovate the third floor by the end of the year, so they can occasionally have live bands play up there.

"We're not going to become the Power Plant, but don't be surprised if we have some live entertainment to bring in some business for the weekend as well," he said.

It's a great idea. I'd love an alternative to the annoying guy with the acoustic guitar and whiny voice who plays cover tunes outside Sliders before Orioles games.

Next baseball season, DSX's outdoor grilling and pre-gaming will be back in full swing, Masoero said. The bar's grand-opening party will be in the spring, he said.

As part of the renovations, Masoero and the other owners rebuilt the tap system and replaced the tap lines. Because of it, you can order a Magic Hat #9 or a Killian's and the beer won't taste funny as it does at some other city bars.

Former owner Jim Stankovic ran DSX for 10 years with his son Phillip and daughter Sharon. Stankovic bowed out of the bar business this past January because of health problems, but he's been back to the new DSX and likes what he sees.

"I give them credit," the elder Stankovic said. "It looks like it's coming back pretty strong."

The Downtown Sports Exchange is at 200 W. Pratt St. Call 410-528-1119.

sam.sessa@baltsun.com

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