Fans scarce on Saturday but expected to turn out in force

Published: Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 11:52 p.m.

The Ray family went looking for some kindred black and gold spirits Saturday afternoon but found only one.

Today will be a different story. While the Rays will be in Tampa watching their beloved Pittsburgh Steelers try to win another Super Bowl, the place they had hoped to find fellow Steelers fans Saturday - the Gainesville Ale House - will be packed with them.

"I just flew in from Pittsburgh. I was seeing fans in Atlanta (airport). I love my Steelers. With all my heart, I love my Steelers," said Susan Ray, wearing Steelers clothing down to the team logo painted on her fingernails. "We're going to the game and we can't wait. We came here because we heard this is where the Steelers fans come."

Ray came to Gainesville because her daughter, Heather Ray, lives here with her husband, Ivan Furic. They are driving to Tampa today.

The Ale House on Archer Road is indeed a Steelers hangout - 60 to 100 fans gather on the patio on Sundays to watch the game. But on Saturday, the Rays, Furic and friend Taurek Saab were joined only by waitress Dana Lewin, wearing a Steelers cap, as the obvious fans there.

No Arizona Cardinal fans were spotted at the Ale House or other Gainesville sports bars, but Ray said she was sitting by one on the plane.

"He kept looking at me funny. I don't know why. I wouldn't even make eye contact with him," she said.

Ale House assistant general manager Colin Canterbury said he is expecting a full house for the game and believes the vast majority will be rooting for Pittsburgh.

Misty Woods, behind the bar at the NW 43rd Street Beef O'Brady's on Saturday afternoon, said all 36 televisions will be tuned to the game today. The restaurant usually gets a contingent of Steelers fans on Sundays, and Woods said she expects the crowd to be pro-Pittsburgh.

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