PHOENIX – It’s 1 p.m. on a Tuesday and downtown Mexican restaurant Chico Malo is packed full of baseball fans.
Chico Malo isn’t a traditional sports bar, but its large flat-screen TVs have drawn in Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers fans alike, all of whom are looking for a place to watch Game 4 of the World Series near Chase Field.
Downtown Phoenix was buzzing with anticipation with the Diamondbacks seeking to tie the series.
“Even when I was coming into work (Monday), just the amount of people that were downtown and many who weren’t even going to the game, they just wanted to be in the environment,” Chico Malo manager Giovann Gomez-Makel said. “The environment is definitely contagious. It’s electric.”
The Diamondbacks’ first World Series appearance since 2001 led to a flood of people coming into downtown Phoenix since Monday, and the bars and restaurants near Chase Field capitalized on the foot traffic by organizing watch parties. Chico Malo closed an hour later than usual to benefit from the crowds.
Most bars hadn’t seen that level of activity in a long time. Like many areas, downtown Phoenix was hit hard by the global pandemic, and recovery has been slow. The Fall Classic has spurred a financial upswing.
“The one game we’ve had, it’s already been incredible,” manager of the Kettle Black pub Alex Whaley said. “It’s the rowdiest it’s been in a while.”
Bars filled up fast Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Devon Matthews, bar manager of Seamus McCaffrey’s, attempted to watch Game 2 at a nearby bar, but due to the Diamondbacks generating interest to levels that haven’t been seen in recent years, he was turned away by four bars due to a lack of space.
As recently as the 2022 season, the Diamondbacks were struggling to get fans to games. Fast forward to this season, renewed excitement has brought new fans from across the state.
“I’ve heard people from Arizona say that they’re a bandwagon fan,” Matthews said. “I’m like, ‘Well, you do live in Arizona.’ They’re like, ‘Yeah.’ And I’m like, ‘You’re not a bandwagon fan, man. We live here. These are our teams.’”
The Diamondbacks’ run hasn’t just brought people from the wider Phoenix area to downtown, but also people from all over America. The Phoenix metropolitan area has been home to several major sporting events over the past few years, including the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals, and it has revitalized the area.
Majerle’s Sports Grill bartender Nika Lewis moved away for a few years, and one of the first things she noticed when she came back was the energy downtown.
“The biggest change is all the different people we get to see from all over,” Lewis said. “Not only do we have the World Series, we’ve had the Super Bowl now, Arizona is really on the map.
“It’s really fun to see all these people coming in and bringing so much community to downtown Phoenix.”
Despite the presence of fans from other teams, the bars have not had to handle negativity between rival fans. It’s been a positive atmosphere.
“There’s no real animosity,” Whaley said. “It’s all just people having a good time. And if you have a bad time? Get out.”
Downtown Phoenix stands to gain economically from the Diamondbacks making the World Series, and bars stand to be significant beneficiaries of that. Downtown Phoenix saw serious economic benefits from hosting the NBA Finals in 2021, and it has been estimated that each World Series game Phoenix hosted brought in $10 million per game.
“It’s a bit busier than the Super Bowl,” Matthews said. “When the Super Bowl was in town. Everyone was talking about the lead-up to that, and I think Scottsdale, they got hit a lot, was very busy over there, but downtown, it wasn’t like this. So I’d say that this World Series is our Super Bowl downtown.”