The best thing about the World Cup games being played in Brazil this year? Soccer fans won’t need coffee or Bloody Marys for early morning games like they did for the 2006 and 2010 world soccer championships.
Nobody is happier about that than the folks who manage or work for sports bars and restaurants.
“It’ll be a lot easier for us, that’s for sure,” said Drew Kalagher, co-owner of Publick House at 2307 Devine St., just up from Five Points.
Like many of the soccer-centric establishments in the area, Publick House opened for breakfast during the 2006 World Cup in Germany and the 2010 event from South Africa. Business was OK for the early games and better for the games that started around the lunch schedule. This year, the game start times from Brazil are noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. EDT — perfect for a lunch crowd, an afternoon gathering of soccer diehards and then a new dinner crowd.
“Hopefully, it’ll be even busier and we can build on (the 2010 World Cup business),” Kalagher said. “We had quite a few people who enjoyed the last one.”
Every game will be available on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. Many bars or restaurants with televisions will show the soccer coverage on some screens. Some will pull out all the stops.
At Cock N’ Bull Pub at 326 S. Edisto Ave. in the Rosewood corridor, they go all out for soccer all the time. For the World Cup, they are expanding lunch from five days a week to seven. “It’s going to be a party,” said co-owner Scott Scheno. “We have three big TVs inside and a TV outside under a tent. If the (U.S. team’s) friendly against Turkey last week is any indication, we’re going to be packed.”
At the British Bulldog Pub at 1220 Bower Parkway in Harbison, they not only will show every game on multiple screens, they plan different drink specials based on who’s playing. “When Spain plays, we’ll have a special on a Spanish beer,” said Chris Ahlberg, front house manager at British Bulldog. “When England plays, we’ll have a special on an English beer.”
When the U.S. team plays, the British Bulldog will be the official local home of the American Outlaws, one of the largest of the U.S. team’s fan clubs.
A portable bar will be set up outside the pub for those waiting for tables, and the weekend night musical entertainment will be delayed until everyone has had their fill of highlights after the 6 p.m. matches. “This is our No. 1 priority right now, to take care of those fans,” Ahlberg said.
Generally, the local sports bars and pubs draw large crowds for matches involving English, Spanish, German and U.S. teams. Brazil’s flashy side likely will draw extra attention this year. The staff and customers at many of the Mexican restaurants in the area will be abuzz when Mexico plays on June 13 at noon, June 17 at 3 p.m. and June 23 at 4 p.m. And you might be surprised how many local fans will be rooting for the teams from Costa Rica or Colombia.
At Delaney’s Pub at 741 Saluda Ave. in Five Points, they always have big turnouts for high-profile soccer matches. Manager Abby Kent warned customers to show up early for the U.S. matches, which are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. June 16 and June 22 and noon on June 26. Should the U.S. team surprise pundits and still have a good shot at advancing to the knockout round going into that June 26 match, Delaney’s and the other local venues could find themselves filling up on the edge of coffee or Bloody Mary time that Thursday morning.
But at least there won’t be two solid weeks of early rising to watch soccer like during the last two World Cups. “Oh my goodness gracious, that was not fun,” Kent said.
Of course, the flip side is that many soccer fans who work 9-to-5 jobs will be sneaking glimpses of the games at work. ESPN will make that easier with all games available on the WatchESPN app on computers, tablets and phones.