The Kansas City Chiefs are gearing up to play in Philadelphia tonight. It’s an awkward homecoming for the Chiefs' new coach Andy Reid, who was with the Eagles for 14 years and was fired last December.
But there’s at least one spot, in the heart of South Philadelphia, where Reid won’t get booed when he walks into the stadium. That’s Big Charlie’s Saloon, the home for Chiefs fans in Philadelphia. And most of those fans aren’t Kansas City ex-pats.
Bar owner Paul Staico says he fell in love with the Chiefs as a child, after they won the Super Bowl in 1970. His father won a bet on the game, and Staico got a bicycle out of it. And then there was something about the helmet.
“It’s just the prettiest helmet. I mean, I’m not a red guy, but that helmet just works,” Staico says.
Staico took over Big Charlie’s Saloon when his father died in 1983. He didn’t mean to make it into a “Chiefs bar.” But he would watch games in the back, and slowly, more and more people started joining him.
“People just came in the back watching the game with us, and they saw our passion,” Staico says. Pretty soon, those patrons would come back, wearing a Chiefs jersey. He regularly gets 30 to 40 Chiefs fans now, and some come from as far as Delaware or New York. There are a few Kansas Citians in the mix, too.
Little by little, people kept giving him Chiefs memorabilia. The bar filled up with helmets, jerseys and photos.
“We’re surrounded by Eagles fans,” Staico says. “Now this is our neighborhood. So we don’t get a hard time that way, but there’s back-and-forth bickering. We would like to have bragging rights on them – we’d really like to get the game.”
Staico says the Chiefs-Eagles matchup tonight is his Super Bowl. The tailgating party at Big Charlie’s Saloon starts at 2 p.m. They’ve blocked off the street for live bands and BBQ. And Staico says he’ll let friendly Eagles fans stop by, as long as they know how to act.