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“It’s not just the Super Bowl [viewing that was cancelled], but the entire NFL season, so it has been very disappointing,” said Mike’s Place co-owner Reuben Beiser.

By Yakir Benzion, United with Israel

The annual Super Bowl championship game is a big hit in Israel, where tens of thousands of fans will be forced to watch from home as coronavirus restrictions are keeping sports bars and other venues closed. Traditionally, fans would pack in for the all-night party, as kickoff in Israel isn’t until 1:30 in the morning due to the time difference.

One of those lamenting the damage to sports from the pandemic is Reuben Beiser, co-owner of Mike’s Place, a popular sports bar in Jerusalem with branches in Tel Aviv and Eilat, all of which have been forced to close for most of the past 10 months.

“It’s not just the Super Bowl, but the entire NFL season, so it has been very disappointing,” Beiser told United With Israel, saying NFL games were a large part of his business when they’d shut down the regular live music and stay open until the wee hours of the morning.

Fans often watched games that didn’t end until 4 a.m.

“I don’t know that it’s important to our business so much as it’s important to our customers. We’ve always made made an effort to show just about any game … it’s our commitment to the football-watching community here in Jerusalem,” Beiser said, adding he was glad in previous years when other venues also showed the Super Bowl “because we wouldn’t be able to handle the crowd.”

“Not just the Super Bowl, but the playoffs, the whole season, it’s always a huge amount of fun, a great vibe,” he said. “But the reward always came on Super Bowl Sunday when you watch the place beaming with excitement throughout the day and throughout the night, and it was just a great night. It’s a shame it won’t be happening this year.”

Beiser said that despite the restrictions that are keeping entertainment venues closed due to the virus, he and his partners received several calls from fans begging them to open on the sly for the game.

“They’ve approached us and tried to bribe us, saying ‘we’ll be quiet and won’t make any noise’ and stuff like that, but sorry, it’s against the rules and you just can’t do that,” Beiser explained.

“People didn’t come to Mike’s Place to watch the Superbowl,” he said. “People came to Mike’s Place to watch the Superbowl with the people at Mike’s Place, and that’s not going to happen this year.”

A die-hard fan of the New England Patriots, where Brady won six championships before heading to Tampa Bay, Beiser is rooting for Kansas City to win.

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