PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Most of the experts say this was a $20 million weekend with hotels booked with New York Jets fans and many of the bars and restaurants at capacity.
But it turns out that beyond the city’s borders, home games often take business away from local taverns which is why it’s a good thing the Steelers are playing the Super Bowl in Dallas.
“We got six. Go for seven,” they were shouting Sunday night.
With the help of big screen televisions, local taverns were packing in enthusiastic Steelers fans for Sunday night’s AFC championship game. But neighborhood bar owners outside the city say it hides a reality they feel all season.
“When the Steelers play at home, we’re probably not as busy, probably three-quarters,” says tavern owner Mark Davis. “But when they’re away, we’re always packed down here.”
Davis, owner of the Pittsburgh Bottleshop Cafe in Collier, says home games are not always the economic winner some portray — at least not for neighborhood bars.
“Heinz Field, they hold 65, 70-thousand fans down there so obviously you have the tickets everyone is going to the game, tailgating.”
Others agree. Had the Steelers played the championship game away, local taverns would have done even better than they did.
“Yes. That would be true. When they are out of town, the bars would be more crowded,” says Liz Calabro, a waitress at Burgh’s Pizza & Wings Pub in Bridgeville.
Calabro says with the Steelers playing in the Super Bowl, their take-out for wings will be crazy for home parties.
“We have three people just working the phones and working the customers to get them in and out the door with their orders,” says Calabro. “The sale of wings is phenomenal.”
And those not at home or out at a Super Bowl party are more likely to jam their local neighborhood tavern and the partying will start early.
“This week will be a little so-so, but come next week, boy, every day leading up, just the excitement,” says Davis. “It’s going to be great.”
“It will be loud. It’ll be fantastic,” adds Calabro.
To be clear, many bars all over the region had a good weekend.
After all, during the January doldrums, it’s better to have the Steelers still playing anywhere than not at all.
But with the Super Bowl in Texas and only the lucky few getting to go the game, local taverns are counting on even more business because the Steelers are playing away.