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mesaSteeler
01-30-2011, 04:13 PM
Cave Creek staging its own Super Bowl Sunday
http://www.azcentral.com/sports/cardinals/articles/2011/01/29/20110129nfl-super-bowl-sunday-cave-creek.html
12 comments by Dan Bickley, columnist - Jan. 29, 2011 07:22 PM
The Arizona Republic

A dirt parking lot separates two bars in the tiny town of Cave Creek. Come Super Bowl Sunday, it will stage a remarkable party.

It will be one of the more-volatile chunks of real estate on the planet.

On one side, an estimated 4,000 Steelers fans are expected to gather at Harold's Cave Creek Corral, a notorious haven for Pittsburghers. (Harold's is quite a Steelers Bar, it's one of the largest out side of the burg. http://haroldscorral.com/steelers/ I've been there a number of times and it's the closest you can get to being at Heinz. - mesa)

Next door, up to 2,000 Packers fans will assemble at The Buffalo Chip Saloon, a place once owned by Green Bay icon Max McGee.

What could possibly go wrong?

"At the end of the game, there's going to be one angry fan base," said Harold's co-owner Danny Piacquadio. "We'll try not to gloat."

This is not a fabricated event. This is organic, and happenstance at its finest. And yet it's nothing new for Harold's, unofficial Arizona headquarters for a franchise that is 6-1 in Super Bowls.

They erect tents when necessary. They serve pierogies, kielbasa, and sandwiches imported from Primanti Brothers. They swill so much Iron City beer that the owner is currently out of stock, having blown through his supply during the regular season, including his two cases of private reserve.

They hosted 3,400 fans when the Steelers won the championship in 2006. That number bulged to 3,800 when Pittsburgh beat Arizona in Super Bowl XLIII.

"There were a lot of Cardinals fans out here for that game, and we all shook hands afterwards," Piacquadio said. "We know what we're doing over here. We've done it before. We've got the map."

The difference is next door. When owner Larry Wendt bought The Buffalo Chip in 1998, he promised to honor McGee, unlikely hero of Super Bowl I, and feed the Wisconsin spirit. So its all-you-can-eat fish fry on Fridays and football on Sundays, thus allowing a cowboy bar to double as a Packers hangout.

Generally, there's a quiet truce between neighbors.

"Every now and again, Steelers fans will run through here waving their Terrible Towels," Wendt said. "But they have 1,000 fans every Sunday. We have 200. We're not going to go over there and taunt them."

The math can be a problem. A few years ago, the Steelers and Packers played during the regular season, and the bars engaged in a friendly competition. Wendt got on his tractor and constructed a mud pit in the middle of the parking lot.

"We had a big tug of war at halftime," said Jim Wagner, a Steelers fan who grew up in Pittsburgh and now lives in Peoria. "Danny found some of the biggest Steelers fans he could, and we destroyed them."

Wendt cringes at the memory.

"We got pulled right in the mud," Wendt said.

But this time is different. The Packers' improbable run through the playoffs has stoked a fan base that hasn't celebrated a Lombardi Trophy in 15 years. Wendt already has booked 1,000 reservations, and the phone keeps ringing.

Then he points to a giant angel atop a 36-foot pole in his parking lot, the one that served as his Christmas tree.

"They think that's the Packer angel," Wendt said. "The team is 5-0 since I put it up. Packer fans won't let me take it down."

McGee died after falling from his roof in 2007, but Wendt never forgot his prediction at the time of the sale: If the Packers get back to the Super Bowl, their fans in Arizona will go crazy.

Now, expecting up to 2,000 fans of his own, Wendt is putting up his own tent for the Super Bowl.

"My personal motto is, 'If we win, we drink. If we lose, we drink,' " said Packers fan Keith Topp, a Buffalo Chip veteran. " :chuckle: But the Wisconsin folks are very proud of the Packers because we own them. They're part of the community, and it's really a great time for all of us."

By kickoff, the combined crowd between the two establishments is expected to dwarf the population of Cave Creek (4,000). The city is using 10 acres of vacant land as a parking lot and will shuttle fans to the two bars. Official meetings have been held to discuss security concerns. Another friendly wager is under way, as each establishment will try to collect the most canned goods, with all proceeds given to the Foothills Food Bank.

The losing owner will fly the other team's flag for a week.

"I've been waiting for this to happen between these bars for a long time," said Wagner, whose brother is flying in from Pittsburgh for the party at Harold's. "I think it's going to be one of the best Supers Bowls ever, and in the end, I think our defense will pull us through."

For now, the neighbors are smiling. The rivalry is friendly and good-natured. But this is football, and we all know how quickly moods can change when the game has been decided.

"You know how politicians have to play it down the middle?" Piacquadio said. "I told the town manager they better be cheering for the Steelers. You don't want 4,000 angry fans on your hands."

Especially if there's no Iron City left in the cooler.

Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/cardinals/articles/2011/01/29/20110129nfl-super-bowl-sunday-cave-creek.html#ixzz1CYSz9eCr