World Cup Wonder

Local bars kick up the celebration in Milwaukee area

By LOREDANA FARHAD
farhadl@mtmary.edu

Every four years the Fédération Internationale de Football Association World Cup takes place, bringing together 32 countries’ soccer teams to play one another until a single winner emerges. The upcoming World Cup is taking place in Brazil this summer. For those not planning on traveling to cheer on their team of choice, the Milwaukee area has a slew of celebratory options.

World Cup

Photo by SCOTT STARR
Crowds pack Brady Street to watch to watch the World Cup in 2009. 

 

According to FIFA, more than 700 million people tuned in to watch the final match of the 2006 World Cup held in Germany, making soccer one of the world’s most widely viewed sports and the World Cup among the most viewed tournaments.

Although soccer is not nearly as hyped of a sport in the United States as it is globally, there are still a plethora of fans here that remain dedicated to watching games at the wee hours of the morning on any given day. Take a walk by a Milwaukee area soccer pub on a weekday morning and jersey-clad viewers are intently focused on their team.

The Highbury Pub, located at 2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., has been a Bay View staple since 2003 and is committed to providing a no-nonsense watching environment for well-versed fans and curious viewers alike. With a max capacity of 80 people, the locale may not be the largest, but patrons should not be deterred from showing up during the big World Cup matches.

Owner Joe Katz plans to put a large tent up in the adjoining outdoor area behind the bar to accommodate hundreds more. In addition, food, beer, music and entertainment pertaining to the teams playing will be in supply during the big matches.

Katz mentioned that he will partner with a neighborhood bar for overflow due to the sheer mass of patrons he anticipates showing up for matches between the highly popular teams. Among those, Katz noted, are Italy, Germany, England, Spain and Mexico in addition to the United States.

“This World Cup is going to be the best of all of them because of the time zones,” Katz said. “[It is] basically East [Coast] time. There are going to be happy hour games in America. In South Korea there were 4:30 a.m. kickoffs, and we couldn’t even physically be open. Legally, bars can’t open until 6 a.m. So this one, we get two games a day minimally for the first two weeks, which is just going to be amazing.”

Keanen Kopplin, general manager of Nomad World Pub, located at 1401 E. Brady St., said it would also be cranking out the celebrations.

“In the back parking lot we are doing stadium-style seating,” Kopplin said. “We are painting the whole back area like a Brazilian slum. We are having a separate bar outside with tap lines … We will have six tap lines outside of varying beers based on who is playing. We will have our tiki bar set up there with TVs and everything.”

Between the increasing following of soccer in the United States and the ideal 2014 World Cup schedule, there will be no shortage of celebrators in attendance. The final matches are expected to be even livelier.

“[During] the finals we actually shut down all of Brady Street,” said Kopplin.

Kopplin said the type of crowd a match at Nomad can draw is unpredictable.

“Soccer is one of those sports that brings different lifestyles and different groups together,” Kopplin said. “You get to meet a lot of new people that you originally wouldn’t have gotten to.”

Upper 90 Sports Pub, located at 322 W. State St. in downtown Milwaukee, is not solely a soccer-viewing establishment, but celebrations will still be occurring in honor of the World Cup.

“Something that we have to offer that [other pubs] necessarily don’t is that we have a phenomenal menu, we are little bit bigger and [during the World Cup] we are going to be doing a ton of giveaways,” said General Manager Dan Moore. Prizes will range from jerseys and vintage soccer balls to tickets for post-World Cup soccer matches in adjacent states like Illinois and Michigan.

The menu at Upper 90 can be a draw for those looking for a plethora of gastronomic options in addition to a committed World Cup viewing environment. Alligator and oversized pretzels are two of the more unique offerings.

If there is one underlying theme among soccer fans, it is the passion that is unparalleled in other sports.

“What makes [the World Cup] so cool is it’s a nationalistic thing,” Katz said. “You can be this little teeny country like Ghana and come in and beat this huge team. It’s pride in their country.”

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