We get it. Brazil is far away, and it costs a bunch of money to fly anywhere these days. But that doesn't mean you have to sit in your house alone — watching your Twitter feed — while you geek out about soccer's biggest quadrennial event, the World Cup. • Local businesses, bars and restaurants are opening their doors for soccer nuts and showing all the action in fan-oriented environments. Whether you're cheering on the red, white and blue or just want to see some high-level competition with people who know what they're talking about, World Cup watch parties will be everywhere you turn for the next four weeks. Bring your national pride, game face, eating pants, hangover cure and let's do this. Leave the vuvuzela at home, though. — Robbyn Mitchell firstname.lastname@example.org
Doing it bigger than anyone else, The Pub at International Plaza in Tampa is rewarding fans for coming out to watch the games with its match card system. When you attend your first World Cup watch party at The Pub, you receive a match card with all the games and specials for the World Cup listed. You get a stamp for coming on game day and making a purchase. If you buy something on five different game days, you get a $10 gift card toward your next visit and entrance into the $250 grand prize drawing. Ten match day visits with purchase, gets you two souvenir schooner glasses, $25 gift certificate and three entries into the drawing. For more information, visit experiencethepub.com/tampa-bay/world-cup.
MacDinton's Irish Pub in South Tampa and St. Pete has positioned itself as the home of international soccer watch parties in Tampa Bay, and is rising to the World Cup challenge by offering drink specials and broadcasting big games on a gigantic HD LED screen. To get the lay of the land, U.S. soccer fans can root for the home team in their final friendly at 6 p.m. Saturday at either MacDinton's location. Say hello to thee U.S. soccer fan club members, the American Outlaws, while you're there. Specials include $3 Dos Equis, Dos Equis Amber, Heineken, Heineken Light and Amstel Light. The viewing schedule and more details on the specials is available at macdintons.com under the Sports tab.
Renzo's Argentine Steakhouse
Former professional soccer player and entertainment company owner Dave Anderson (see Page 45) has teamed with Renzo's Argentine Steakhouse (3644 W Kennedy Blvd., Tampa) to host a series of World Cup watch parties at the restaurants, beginning with the opening match on June 12 between Brazil and Croatia. Nocturnal Live is also hosting a World Cup pool, whose proceeds will go to help U.S. Soccer. A $40 buy-in gives you a shot at the $2,000 prize. For info about the pool or specials, visit facebook.com/NocturnalLIVE. Info on the parties can be found at renzosgourmet.com.
Yard of Ale Gastro Pub
For some #Murica realness, you can join the American rooting section at the Yard of Ale Gastro Pub at 2675 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater, for the three U.S. match-ups on June 16, June 22, and June 26. The party's organizer, Tampa Bay Club Sport, says there will be beer and shot specials from Southern Comfort, prizes and raffles. You could also be one of the lucky few to score a U.S. World Cup jersey in a giveaway. For more information, check facebook.com/TampaBayClubSport or yardofale.com/Yard-of-ale-Gastro-pub.
St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg College's Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St., is building a cultural event around June 17's Mexico-Brazil match. Mahetzy, a folkloric Mexican Dance company, will host culturally themed activities and performances for both countries as the game shows on the big screen from 3 to 6 p.m. Fans are encouraged to wear their colors no matter what country they represent, and Tampa Bay Rowdies players will be on hand for some giveaways.
Independent Bar and Cafe
Seminole Heights' craft beer haven, the Independent (5016 N Florida Ave.), won't be left out of the World Cup fun as the TV-less venue plans to set up a big projection screen for an optimal viewing experience. Bar owners will be selling Independent soccer kits they printed up for hardcore fans of both beer and futbol. Party organizers promise beer specials and raffle prizes. The lucky winner of a bracket challenge gets a $100 bar tab. Make it count, friends. For more information, visit facebook.com/IndependentBarTampa.
Mike & Lisa's Cricketer's Pub
To catch the matches with a bunch of alright blokes, look no further than Mike & Lisa's Cricketer's British Pub, 2634 Bayshore Blvd. in Dunedin. The bar will have food and drink specials during every game of the tourney, and you never know who will stop by to root for the Three Lions. For more info, visit cricketerspub.com.
Horse and Jockey Pub
Hang out with Tampa Bay Rowdies players Shane Hill, Darel Russell, and Christophe Lallet at 3 p.m. June 19 to see England take on Uruguay at the Horse and Jockey Pub, 1155 Pasadena Ave. S in South Pasadena. Players will be giving away game tickets and Rowdies merch, and reps from Budweiser and Corona will be on hand with the good stuff. Head over to Horse & Jockey's Facebook page for a chance at a $10 gift card — the person with the best excuse for why they need to leave work wins. For more info, look under the events tab at horseandjockeypub.us.
Old Northeast Tavern
Stuff your gullet with whatever they place in front of you at the Old Northeast Tavern, 718 Second St. N in St. Pete, on June 14 as the bar hosts its Weekend Kick-Off Block Party and Father's Day event featuring $30-all-you-can-eat and drink (that price is for advance purchase only; it goes up to $35 the day of the event). Matches will be playing on every TV, and games and music will be outside as the festivities rage from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. Call (727) 821-8070 for more information.
So this is a totally awesome thing. Royal Caribbean Cruise lines will host the Coca-Cola Party at Sea for diehard fans who want to make their family vacations a little more soccer-y. Right now, the company is advertising several three- to five-day cruises departing from Port Canaveral and Miami throughout the games, from June 12 to July 13, with soccer-themed games, entertainment and more. The first, and so far the cheapest, is a three-night cruise to the Bahamas that leaves Port Canaveral on June 13. An interior cabin is $189 before port taxes and fees. Now that's an epic way to see good stuff. For more information, visit royalcaribbean.com.
Also check out...
The Brass Tap, 4011 Tampa Road in Oldsmar. Games will be paired with beers of competing countries, brasstapbeerbar.com.
Tate's Pizza, 3342 S Westshore Blvd. in Tampa. Two slices and a beer special runs concurrent with some match times. tatespizza.com.
World of Beer Westchase, 9524 W Linebaugh Ave.. On June 13, there's an Estrella tasting during the Spain-Netherlands match. worldofbeer.com.
World of Beer Downtown St. Pete, 100 Fourth St. S: On June 16, there will be a viewing party for the United States vs. Ghana, with drink specials and giveaways. worldofbeer.com.
Walters Press Box, 222 S Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa, will show several World Cup games. pressboxsports.com.
O'Toole's Irish Pub, 1215 W Brandon Blvd. in Brandon, is offering $3 and $4 beer specials for every game. otoolesirishbar.com.