Although this year’s Super Bowl matchup of Indianapolis and Chicago has a decidedly Midwestern feel to it — a region renowned for its football fanaticism — transplants from that area living in San Francisco may find it difficult to view the big game locally alongside their like-minded comrades.
Unlike years past, when fans of former Super Bowl champs such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots could find refuge in area bars dedicated solely to their teams’ interests, supporters of the Colts and the Bears will have to scramble to find a sanctuary for their squads in The City.
"I guess you could call it the mystery of the missing Colts’ bars," said Steve Grealish, co-owner of the North Star and Shanghai Kellys, two popular sports bars in the North Beach/Russian Hill areas. "I can’t really think of any bars in this city that have had a loyal Colts or Bears following over the years."
Just because The City lacks a true destination for either team does not mean that area bars won’t be gearing up for the annual meeting between the NFL’s top two squads.
As is the case with Grealish’s Shanghai Kellys, located on Broadway and Polk streets, expect most sports bars to feature vintage barbecue amenities, plus drink specials all day to incite interest in the big game.
Other drinking holes, such as the Marina Sports Bar, located on Lombard and Scott streets, have been packing in fans for the opening rounds of the football playoffs, and Sunday should be no different.
"We’ve had a lot of fun the last couple of weeks with the football games," said general manager Caleb Hill, himself a Chicago native and Bears fan. "We expect the Super Bowl to be really busy with fans from both teams."
If the bar scene doesn’t sound too appealing, supporters of the two teams can always find alternative means to root on their favorite squads.
Shane Seitz, an Indiana University graduate and Colts fan who has been living in San Francisco for eight years, will congregate with a number of his college friends to watch the Super Bowl away from the crowded bar scene.
"There are about 20 of us who graduated from IU who are going to get together at one of our friends’ houses to watch the Colts," said Seitz, who works for Quest, a technology consulting and management firm. "Fortunately, we have enough people here who like the Colts, so we don’t have to go to a specific bar to hang out with other fans."
Colts backers such as Seitz may find commendable haunts within city limits, but Chicago fans searching for a similar atmosphere may have to travel a few miles south.
Windy City Pizza, located in San Mateo, has become the official gathering grounds for a host of Bears fans in the Bay Area.
The restaurant and bar has been in operation for more than 27 years, the last 17 under owner Bob Yeats.
"About 10 years ago, a couple of members of the local Bears fan club approached us and asked if they could gather here to watch the games," said Yeats, who has ties to Chicago dating back to 1975. "We thought it would be a great place for Bears fans to watch the game in an authentic Chicago atmosphere."