On Super Bowl Sunday, LGBTQ football fans across the nation will be riveted to their TVs to see whether the Kansas City Chiefs can defeat the favored San Francisco 49ers.
Meanwhile in the City by the Bay, hundreds of 49er Faithful will be gathering at Hi Tops, an LGBTQ sports bar in The Castro, to be part of an even bigger upset: maybe the only gay bar in the world rooting against Taylor Swift.
“Hopefully that’s the case, but I’m sure we’ll get a few [Swifties] in there,” remarked co-owner Jesse Woodward with tongue planted in cheek. “But gotta get the win so hopefully everyone can have a good time while the Niners win. She’s doing pretty well for herself so I don’t think she’ll take it too personally if her boyfriend doesn’t get another Super Bowl win.”
We’ll find out whether that’s true if a new track suddenly appears on “The Tortured Poets Department” dedicated to Hi Tops. But if the Niners end up taking home their sixth Super Bowl ring, the bar will probably be OK with that.
All of the staff is looking forward to Super Bowl LVIII. It’s a big day for the bar every year but with the Niners looking to avenge their loss to Kansas City in the 2019-20 season, Woodward anticipates an especially large and charged up crowd.
“We’ll be at capacity well before the game starts and we’ll have to probably not let some people in, unfortunately. A lot of people kind of watch from outside in that case because you can look in and watch from the sidewalk and we’ve got the park lit out there for overflow [and] for people who just want to hang out,” he explained.
Woodward compared the vibe in the bar for a 49ers Super Bowl to the energy he usually feels during Pride. He and co-owner Dana Gleim opened Hi Tops in 2012 and the bar has hosted Super Bowl throngs for the Niners’ two previous appearances in the 2012-13 and 2019-20 seasons.
“Just really fun. Everybody comes dressed up and wants to have a good time. And it’s really the best day to own a sports bar,” he exclaimed.
During San Francisco’s playoff run in the 2012-13 season, Hi Tops put itself on the national radar when Sports Illustrated ran a photo of the bar at the moment the 49ers clinched the NFC Championship featuring two men kissing in celebration.
Woodward recalled hearing from people all over the country who read the accompanying feature story. Hi Tops eventually framed the photo and still has it on display.
This year, they’re hoping to watch the crowd break out in a similar celebration at the end of the Super Bowl. Even if it makes a certain Chiefs fan declare that baby, now we got bad blood.