Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Downtown Futbol Fans Flood Congress St.

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 5:30 PM

click to enlarge Playground's bartenders trying to keep up with these futbol fans' thirst during last Thursday's USA loss against Germany.
  • Playground's bartenders trying to keep up with these futbol fans' thirst during last Thursday's USA loss against Germany.

Downtown Tucson was buzzing on Congress St. by 1 p.m. today for USA's Round of 16 World Cup match against Belgium. From its west end at Elliott's On Congress all the way down to Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails, soccer diehards and fair-weather fans alike gave local businesses a spike in traffic on what normally would be a sleepy shift.

For many of the early-afternoon fans, Bloody Mary's were followed by what seems to be the unofficial beer of the World Cup: Bud Light. "So much Bud Light. Just aluminum cans of Bud and Bud Light, all day long," as Playground Bar and Lounge Director of Operations Sandy Ford put it.

Outside of the usual appetizers at self-proclaimed sports bars such as World of Beer, The Rialto Theater clearly held the gastronomical advantage with Gio Taco's portable grill setup, offering made-to-order pollo asado and carne adasa tacos.

Not surprisingly, the most rabid fans could be found at Playground. The bar and lounge has become a year-round default destination for Tucson's soccer enthusiasts. Playground's main indoor bar hit maximum capacity by 12:30 p.m., and its covered rooftop viewing area wasn't far behind.

With today's 2-1 extra time loss to Belgium, the USA team will be coming home, but have plenty to be proud of. Belgium advances to the quarterfinals this Saturday against Argentina.

click to enlarge Playground's rooftop patio nearly at capacity.
  • Playground's rooftop patio nearly at capacity.
click to enlarge Moments before fans had completely filled Playground's main bar, 30 minutes prior to today's USA vs. Belgium game.
  • Moments before fans had completely filled Playground's main bar, 30 minutes prior to today's USA vs. Belgium game.
click to enlarge It's tough to beat the Rialto Theatre experience, with Tucson's largest screen,  its cushy balcony chairs, and the wafting odor of freshly fried tortillas courtesy of Gio Taco's floor - level grill.
  • It's tough to beat the Rialto Theatre experience, with Tucson's largest screen, its cushy balcony chairs, and the wafting odor of freshly fried tortillas courtesy of Gio Taco's floor - level grill.
click to enlarge "World of Beer patrons react to Belgium taking a two-goal lead over the United States during extra time."
  • "World of Beer patrons react to Belgium taking a two-goal lead over the United States during extra time."

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