Hundreds of local and foreign fans packed into Taipei’s sports bars yesterday to watch the Super Bowl between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers.
As early as 5am, some fans had lined up in front of the Brass Monkey, one of the most popular sports bars in the capital, to secure a seat for the live broadcast of the NFL championship game, the highest level of professional football in the US.
Shortly after the game kicked off at 7:30am, the 100-plus fans who had squeezed into the bar broke into cheers as the Ravens scored the first touchdown.
The Ravens were playing well, John Dangola, a New Jersey native, said.
He told Central News Agency that he was impressed by the team’s defense.
Dangola, who has been working in Taiwan for two years, said he watches the Super Bowl every year. He said he took the morning off yesterday to watch the game.
Another Ravens supporter, Lucas Fortier, an American who is studying Mandarin in Taipei, expressed optimism about the team’s chances.
“I’m in a good mood [because the team] is winning,” he said.
However, supporters of the 49ers seemed to be not as confident.
“I’m nervous,” said Johnny Wang, an American-born Taiwanese who has been in Taiwan for 10 years, after the first half.
Wang, who was dressed in a 49ers red jersey, said he watches the Super Bowl every year.
Staff at the Brass Monkey said about 170 fans were at the bar to watch the game.
That is close to double the number of customers on a regular weekday evening, Max Murphy, owner of the bar, said.
Meanwhile, about 70 fans gathered to watch the live broadcast from the Superdome in New Orleans at the Tavern-Premier.
A fan who identified himself as Dave from Houston said it was the first time he wad watched the Super Bowl in Taiwan.
“This is a good crowd. I did not know they get into football that much here,” said Dave, who was in Taiwan on a business trip. “I enjoy this. It’s more like it is back home in the US. Everyone cheers very loud.”
Vivian Chiu, who was at the bar with her husband, said she was rooting for the Ravens.
“I’m sweating. I’m very nervous,” she said.
Chiu said she and her husband watched the game at home last year, but decided to go to a sports bar this year because it is more exciting.
“You cheer alone when watching the game at home, but here a whole row of people cheer with you,” she said.
Chiu, 25, said she loves football because “it’s fun to see people push and shove each other.”
Tavern-Premier manager Kim Jiang said that the number of fans in the bar this year was about 30 percent less than last year.
“This year, there are not as many people as we had expected,” she said, adding that the Super Bowl was played during the Lunar New Year holiday last year, while it is on a working day this year.
Jiang said the World Cup and other major soccer events usually attract the biggest crowds.
The World Cup draws 200 to 300 people, she said, adding that many who come to watch the Super Bowl are from the US and the UK.
Jiang’s view was shared by Murphy, who said soccer games usually draw more people to his bar.