Check out chapter 2 of our group's history. Thanks to both Tims, Mario, and several others who contributed to this summary.
Let us know if we're missing anything or if you'd like to contribute a story from the early days.
Yahoo Groups launched in early 2001 and was, in many ways, a precursor to MySpace and Facebook. Sensing an opportunity, Tim, Michael Burstin, and a few others launched the cleverly named ‘Boston Steelers Fans’ group on April 27, 2002. Overnight, fans of the black and gold throughout New England were able to easily communicate with one another. They posted hot takes, listed tickets for sale, and bought and sold black and gold gear of all shapes and sizes. One yinzer (definitely not your author) even picked up two strangers on the side of the road after they posted about needing a ride to the bar for a Steelers season opener. More than anything though, the Boston Steelers Fans Yahoo group exposed the group to a far larger audience than ever before.
Suddenly, Pittsburgh fans were packing into The Sports Depot on Sundays to watch Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox sling it all over the place. The bar was attracting so many Steelers fans on a weekly basis that a dedicated space became necessary.
Before the start of the 2003 campaign, the group made the jump to Roggies, a neighborhood bar & pizzeria in the (poorly named) Cleveland Circle area. What it lacked in windows, chairs, bathrooms, and space, it made up for in charm. That small basement bar room would go on to become the backdrop for a lifetime of Steelers memories, including Ben Roethlisberger's rookie season, one for the thumb in 2005, a sixth Super Bowl win 3 years later, and another Super Bowl appearance to close out the decade. That era was special for other reasons though too.
In the Spring of 2008, the Penguins, led by a young Sidney Crosby, made the playoffs for a second consecutive season. Still, most fans were cautiously optimistic after a run of mediocre seasons and the not so distant memory of the team threatening to leave town. As the New England winter slowly receded, a small group of Pittsburgh fans began gathering at the many watering holes along Canal Street to watch the Pens. When the team reached the Stanley Cup finals that year, dozens of fans showed up at Hurricane O'Reilly's to take in the action. That season ended in defeat, but like the 1996 Super Bowl it laid the foundation for what came next.
When the Pens made it back to the cup finals a year later, more than 100 yinzers packed into the Greatest Bar to see Crosby and teammates raise the Stanley Cup for the first time. That success would lead to group outings for Penguins games at TD Garden, occasional regular season watch parties, and a run of post season gatherings that continues to this day.
While the Penguins’ success led to events at sports bars all over the region, there was one notable establishment that never hosted a Pens watch party.
After nearly 22 years of operation, the Sports Depot shut down for good in the Spring of 2010. Regina Pizza opened up shortly thereafter and operated in the space until Summer 2020 when it closed amid the COVID pandemic. Today, the turn of the century train depot sits empty, its next chapter unclear.