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Read the news of the day in less than 10 minutes — not that we’re counting.
The owner of San Francisco’s Kezar Pub is expecting to turn away 49ers fans ahead Sunday’s playoff game. Instead, the Bay Area sports bar will be filled with fans of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Philly fans have flocked to Cyril Hackett’s bar before every Eagles game this season, filling up seats before other teams’ supporters even start to arrive. Regardless of what else is playing on the Cole Valley pub’s 24 televisions, the Birds game will be on — with sound. During the Jan. 21 playoff game against the New York Giants, Hackett estimated around 350 Eagles fans showed up. For the NFC Championship face-off, he expects about 80% of his patrons to be rooting for the team in green.
Operating as an Irish pub since the 1930s and sharing a name with Kezar Stadium, the Niners’ first home, Kezar calls itself a 49ers bar. But it’s truly home for Birds fans.
“We appreciate the fact that the Eagles fans and the Philadelphia fans have been ongoing customers of ours,” Hackett said. “Come rain or shine, they show up to watch the game.”
Hacket has owned Kezar for two decades, after coming from Ireland to the Bay Area in the 1980s. About 15 years ago, he had a group of customers from Philly come in to watch their home teams play. After the young fans stayed for the length of a particularly long Flyers game, Hackett became endeared to the Philadelphians. Word quickly spread.
No surprise, but of all the sports fans Hackett has hosted at Kezar, Eagles followers are the most passionate.
“They’re probably the loudest, most raucous fans of anyone I know,” he said.
In the bar’s early days as an Eagles’ nest, one fan shipped a pair of metal seats from Veterans Stadium — host of NFL games from 1971 to 2002 — all the way to San Francisco. Hackett remembers the Eagles devotee lugging the seats to and from the bar for games and plunking them down in front of the TV sets, encouraging patrons to take turns sitting there.
Another fanatic, a member of the bar’s original group of Philadelphia fans, has since moved to the suburbs, but still orders wings from Kezar before the games. Another regular requested cheesesteaks be put on the menu — “the Philly special.”
For Philadelphia fans on the West Coast, many of them transplants, the community at Kezar is a comfort.
“They want to identify a little bit with home. … As much as people want to say, ‘I want to get away from home,’ they really don’t,” Hackett said. “They want to have that camaraderie; they want to have that friendship with people from home, like-minded people who support the same thing.”
And despite the takeover of their sports bar, 49ers fans don’t seem to mind their barmates.
“We’re very lucky, because we’re sports first,” Hackett said.
During a 2021 regular season game between the teams, the environment was friendly. Even with higher stakes, things should stay that way, he said.
Hackett expects a close game on Sunday: a tie that runs into overtime. Reluctant to pick a victor between his two teams, he said, “It’ll be very, very tough.”