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This Boxing Day, consider helping your local soccer pub survive the pandemic

Former Fire GM Peter Wilt is donating his usual bar tab to Milwaukee’s iconic Highbury Pub. Is it the start of a movement?

The Highbury Pub, 2322 S Kinnickinnic Ave in Milwaukee
Photo courtesy The Highbury Pub

Happy Boxing Day.

Today, I’m thinking about our local soccer pubs. In a normal, non-pandemic year, these places would be packed with Premier League fans watching the “Festive Fixtures.” I’d be getting ready to watch my beloved Arsenal hopefully avoid sliding further down the table when they host London rivals Chelsea.

Perhaps I’d be at The Globe Pub in Chicago’s North Center neighborhood hanging out with the Chicago Gooners, or maybe I’d make a quick trip up to Milwaukee for the day to visit friends at The Highbury Pub, a legendary, magical place I used to frequent when I worked for a local TV station a decade ago.

The Highbury’s owner, Joe Katz, made the tough-but-responsible decision to close the bar when the pandemic began, and despite a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling over the summer that turned America’s Dairyland into a COVID Wild West by opening everything, Katz opted to keep the Highbury closed, instead selling package liquors and Mexican food to help the bar make it through the pandemic.

On a typical Boxing Day at The Highbury you’d always run into some fun characters, and you might even get the chance to share a pint with a big name in the sport. Jesse Marsch’s brother used to be a bartender there, and the Red Bull Salzburg manager and former Chicago Fire star was known to turn up to watch matches. Former Fire general manager Peter Wilt is a Highbury regular, too. Wilt announced on Twitter today he’d be donating his usual Boxing Day bar tab, to help keep the place from closing for good.

Other Highbury fans, like Kuba Krzyzostaniak from Forward Madison, have also stepped up.

I’d encourage you to think about your favorite local soccer bar today. The employees and owners who help keep us happy the day after Christmas (and all throughout the year, really) are hurting, and could use our help. Be like Wilt and donate your usual tab. Maybe buy some merch, or order carry out if it’s available. Help however you can, if you’re able.

With any luck, we’ll be able to safely hit up these spots sooner rather than later.