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February 07, 2023

Big Charlie's Saloon, the Chiefs bar in South Philly, cancels Super Bowl watch party

The spot at 11th and McKean streets has been an oasis for Kansas City fans for decades

Food & Drink Super Bowl LVII
Big Charlie's Saloon Chiefs StreetView/Google Maps

Big Charlie's Saloon, the Kansas City Chiefs bar at 11th and McKean streets in South Philadelphia, has canceled its Super Bowl LVII watch party.

Big Charlie's Saloon, the longtime South Philly bar of choice for Kansas City Chiefs fans, has decided not to throw a Super Bowl watch party on Sunday as originally planned.

The bar at 11th and McKean streets had put tickets up for sale for the event, and regulars snatched them up quickly. The demand for entry to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and the Chiefs in Super Bowl LVII resulted in Big Charlie's selling out almost immediately, and the bar being unable to accommodate many who had hoped to attend.

The bar's management tweeted Monday that it didn't want to turn patrons away, so Big Charlie's was choosing not to have a party at all.

"We’re so bummed. I can’t believe this is going on," manager Laura Sessa told the New York Times, which profiled Big Charlie's Saloon.

The bar's allegiance to the Chiefs dates back to a bet made by late owner Charlie Staico, who put money on Kansas City to win Super Bowl IV in 1970. The Chiefs defeated the Minnesota Vikings 23-7 in that game, turning Staico into a superfan. His son, Paul, later redesigned the bar, decorating it with Chiefs memorabilia inside and a wooden bench painted in Kansas City colors outside.

For years, Big Charlie's Saloon has been a haven for Chiefs fans, not unlike other bars around the country that have become enclaves for fan bases that support NFL teams outside their current cities, where people can watch games together in peace.

When the Chiefs defeated the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV in 2020, Big Charlie's Saloon held an outdoor watch party with a DJ and catered food. But with the Eagles taking on the Chiefs on Sunday, there's much more attention on the game locally.

Big Charlie's had planned to hold Sunday's event indoors, limiting the capacity to 150 people, but opted not to move forward when the demand for tickets surpassed that number. Sessa told the New York Times that there had been no threats from Eagles fans or any particular safety concerns for Chiefs fans who planned to be at the bar. Given the possibility of fans pouring into the streets after the game, the bar didn't want patrons getting stranded.

“We have to make sure our people can get home," Sessa said.

The bar tweeted a photo of Chiefs fans outside the business on Monday afternoon and invited people to visit ahead of Super Bowl Sunday.