Denver soccer fans who have been following the momentous success of the U.S. women’s soccer team will find no shortage of excitement for the FIFA World Cup Final on the morning of July 7. They just might have trouble finding a place to squeeze in for festivities.
Mike Mitchell, the vice president of soccer fan club American Outlaw’s Denver chapter, says his organization will host six viewing parties at bars throughout the Denver area and expects them all to be packed.
The British Bulldog at 2052 Stout Street is American Outlaw’s traditional go-to hosting bar; bartender Coit Stevenson says he expects a “madhouse” on Sunday morning. For the past few World Cups, including the men’s games last year, the pub was able to spill the celebrations out onto the sidewalk with a beer truck and big-screen TVs showing the game. Stevenson said that was just too much logistical energy, so this year fans will have to pack in and expect standing room only. Mitchell recommends getting there by 7:30 a.m. (The match starts at 9 a.m.)
Some fans are lamenting that Denver doesn’t have open-air street-viewing parties like other big cities — Chicago, for example, screens the games free to the packed-in public at Lincoln Park. Now, Visit Denver is touting one free big venue to see the game on Sunday morning, for those who are willing to trek all the way out to Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Mitchell said he expects that party to accommodate a less raucous, more family-friendly vibe.
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Other bars hosting "official" American Outlaw watch parties (full volume on soccer guaranteed, even if the Broncos are playing) include: The Celtic on 14th and Market Street; the Sports Book Bar and Grill, at both its DTC and Wash Park spots; and Esters, at its locations on Holly Street and at Oneida Park. Four Tavern locations are hosting special viewing parties: Lowry, Platt Park, Denver Tech Center and Littleton. (This Denver World Cup fan Facebook page posts ongoing updates with other locations that are hosting their own parties.)
The past month has seen a spotlight on the team on and off the field, as players have scored big goals and advocated for attention and salaries from U.S. Soccer equal to their male peers. Star midfielder/winger and on-fire political activist Megan Rapinoe has caught the nation’s attention by being the first white female athlete to take a knee during the national anthem in protest of racial violence, and more recently with her strongly worded rejection of a potential White House invitation.
The city has a connection to Rapinoe: Her girlfriend, Sue Bird, is a an operations associate for the Denver Nuggets. Additionally, two players on the U.S. team are from the Denver area: Mallory Pugh of Highlands Ranch and Lindsey Horan of Golden.
The local fan base continues to build: Mitchell says he’s seen this World Cup bring in more fresh faces than ever before. If the momentum continues, Denver might have to step up its game for venues. Until then, plan to rise early on Sunday morning and get a little closer (emotionally and physically) to the Denver soccer community as you cheer on the U.S. ladies.