Crossbar Soccer + Beer is located in Richardson, but chances are good you’ll find lots of Lake Highlands folks playing in league games at the indoor soccer facility and watching English Premier League matches in the bar. Lake Highlands High 2007 graduate Preston Osborn and his wife, Chelsea, co-own the business with partners Tyler Watterson and Ben Bauer. Crossbar opened June 1.
By the time Preston finished law school at SMU and began his career as a litigator, owning an indoor soccer center was the last thing on his mind. He was admittedly out of shape, and Chelsea urged him to get up and get moving.
“You’re always reminiscing about your soccer-playing days,” Chelsea prodded, referring to Preston’s years competing for LHHS, SMU and high-level club teams like the Dallas Texans and Comets. “Just get on a team.”
Chelsea spotted a Facebook post from Watterson inviting players to try out for the few remaining spots on his division 3 amateur league team, Lone Star Republic.
“It was the middle of July, it was 120 degrees and I hadn’t played soccer in 6 years,” recalls Preston. “When I got home, I passed out dead. Other players were running circles around me. But I won the spot.”
When the season ended, Watterson was ready to take the team to the next level.
“He wanted us to join a semi-pro league,” Preston remembers with a laugh. “He had big ambitions to build a club with multiple teams and buy a soccer complex. ‘MLS by 2021’ was his rallying cry.”
Preston got hooked on Watterson’s grand scheme and became a part-owner. He put together a business plan and offered his legal skills to help dodge potential pitfalls. But the club needed somewhere to train.
“You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is for a group like ours to get field space in Dallas,” says Preston. “School districts won’t rent to us, and every day, we were driving past fields and gyms knowing we couldn’t get in. Beautiful fields stayed empty, but they wouldn’t even return our phone calls when they learned our players are all adults.”
After an exhaustive search, they signed a lease at 1000 Hampshire near Arapaho and 75. In the 1980s, the building housed Slapshot Hockey Center and later converted to Pro-Touch Soccer, then Dallas Soccer Center. More recently, LHHS 2005 graduates Esteban and Manuel Mariel operated City Futsal there, but they’ve since moved to the Dallas Farmers Market. The Crossbar crew spent the month of May securing a TABC license, setting up the bar, hanging big screen TVs and painting the walls. They opened in June as an adult-focused facility and have stayed busy since.
“We’re equal parts bar and soccer center,” explains Preston. “If you go to most athletic facilities, your game starts at 7:23 p.m. and ends at 7:56, then you’re gone by 7:57. You’re in, you’re out, you’re done. Maybe you buy a Gatorade for $9, or maybe the vending machine is broken. There’s nothing worth sticking around for. We want something different. We want people to know they can hang out and watch a game in a chill, relaxed atmosphere. We’ve put an English pub next to an indoor soccer center. Our ultimate goal is to make Crossbar a home base for anyone who plays, has played or just enjoys watching the sport.”
Chelsea and Preston are beer lovers – they were married in a brewery – and the menu so far is stacked with a rotating list of ales, ciders and IPAs. More than 50 beers are offered – all from Texas breweries. Food service is in the planning stages but, for now, catered breakfast tacos are served during Saturday watch parties.
Crossbar’s biggest strengths are the easy click-click of signing up online and the flexibility of choosing between bringing an entire team into a league or showing up for one of the center’s nightly “pickup” games.
“It’s a great way to jump in and meet some people,” Preston says, “and we’re starting to organize Pickup Happy Hours so people can stay after and mingle a bit.”
Crossbar also offers a workout program called “Sphere,” a kind of Camp Gladiator with a soccer twist. There’s no keeping score – if you get too competitive, you’ll receive a yellow card. It’s all about building community and fitness while having a good time.
“There’s a whole culture in soccer of joining a supporters’ group which becomes a group of friends,” says Preston. “If you walk into many pubs, each group stakes out their corner and dresses in their colors and talks smack all week. It’s a unique experience, and we want to foster that.”
Preston works remotely from a legal office in the back of Crossbar and splits entrepreneurial duties with Watterson and Bauer. As CEO of Dallas Soccer Alliance, an adult soccer league, Bauer has links to 3,000 players from all over the metroplex. The biggest challenge for all three is balancing their day job and their side hustle.
“If you’re not hyper-organized – and very lucky – this is never going to work,” says Preston. “When you start a new business, your to-do list is a thousand items long, and your purchase list is even longer. The nuts-and-bolts of management is critical to keeping quality high.”
The best part, they say, is reconnecting with decades of soccer friends and acquaintances.
“The soccer world is small, and it’s rare that a player steps on that field that I haven’t seen before,” says Preston. “I enjoy seeing players come into my building and love it – seeing their praise on Instagram and watching them get so jazzed about this.”