by: Erick Mertz, Pizza Roma has opened a sports bar next door, along Woodstock Boulevard; the new Roma Coluseum fills a local need.

Sports bars are the neon-trimmed saloons for the modern urban American landscape. A decidedly masculine antidote to the erudite wine and cheese crowd, such places are a comfortably unassuming place for games and beer, and have become all-but-essential stops in the ebb and flow of informal community-building.

For a long time, sports fans in Woodstock needed to travel into other neighborhoods to find a place to take in their bacchanalia with like minds. Now there is something much closer to home; within walking distance for most centrally-located Woodstock bat and ball junkies.

For What It's Worth Records' last retail location before becoming an entirely online business has been filled by 'Roma Coliseum', an adjunct to the well-established and attended pizzeria Pizza Roma -- the two establishments are connected with an easily-traversed hallway.

Filled with lottery, framed jerseys and other memorabilia, and a well stocked beer bar, Roma Coluseum has quickly established itself as a place where sports enthusiasts of the Beavers, Ducks, and Blazers persuasion have a decided home screen advantage.

Any frequenter of sports bars knows that a proper haunt is only as good as its menu; in that regard, the Roma Coliseum features the full pizza spread from its parent store next door, as well as an assortment of bar sandwiches - with more to come, according to management. 'There's some really good stuff here,' a local Seahawks fan says, as waitresses flow back and forth from the shared kitchen. 'It's right in the middle of everything.'

This is a high time for sports in the Northwest, with perennial contenders in college football and basketball, the stalwart NFL and Seahawk fans, added to resurgent Trail Blazers interest that threatens to unite the entire state. Sports fans in Portland, especially Woodstock residents, neither type known for their rabid natures, now have a place to feel safe at home.

And to shout out loud.