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B.C. sports bars ready for Canada-Argentina Copa America game

Combination of Euro 2024 with Copa America has led to bars putting up the sound on TVs as patrons want to watch soccer
Owen Coomer, manager of operations at Taphouse Taverns, says his bars are seeing "tremendous" interest from customers in watching Copa America and Euro 2024 games

Vancouver sports bars are readying for a busy night, with the Canadian men's soccer team playing world champion Argentina in a Copa America semi-final match starting at 5 p.m. 

Some bar owners told BIV that interest in the Canadian men's national team has steadily grown through the 16-team, U.S.-hosted tournament, which started June 20 and is set to end with a final game July 14.

Uruguay and Colombia are slated to play each other tomorrow at 5 p.m. in the tournament's other semi-final match. 

"There is a tremendous amount of interest in soccer, and it is nicely timed to have the Euros at the same time as Copa America," said Owen Coomer, manager of operations at Taphouse Taverns. He was referring to the 24-team Euro 2024 tournament, which also started in June and has a final game on July 14, hours before the final Copa America match. .

"People are dying to watch soccer these days and it certainly helps business," he said.

Coomer's company has two locations: a 450-seat sports bar in Surrey that has 56 additional seats on its patio, and a 388-seat bar in Coquitlam, which has 62 seats on its patio.

"If Canada wins tonight, we will have a packed house on Sunday," Coomer said.  

Some bars have already been at capacity during games.

Red Card Sports Bar and Eatery can accommodate about 200 people, and lead bartender Brooklyn Wong told BIV this afternoon that it has been packed during some Copa America games. 

"We're going to have the game shown in all our restaurants with sound on," said Romer's principal Kelly Gordon, whose burger chain has restaurants in Kitsilano, Vancouver's River District, Port Moody and North Vancouver. 

"I did not expect that it would be as big a draw as it has been but, for the last game, the restaurants were full with people watching the game. So we're going to have the sound on, which is something we rarely do."

Joseph Richard Group principal Ryan Moreno said he has heard from many of the general managers at his pubs that interest in the tournament is high and that they have been fielding calls from people asking if the game would be on and whether sound would be on. 

"There's definitely interest," he said this afternoon. "We've always shown the Euros, World Cups and big games."

Daniel Frankel, who owns large pubs such as the Brewhall in Vancouver, and the six-location Tap & Barrel chain, told BIV in a text today that the major global soccer tournaments have been a welcome business driver following the NHL playoffs. Those went until June 24 and captured more excitement than could have been the case given that there was a Canadian team, the Edmonton Oilers, up to the finals. 

Evidence that Canada's national soccer team has caught the imagination of sports fans and celebrities around the world came July 5, when the Rolling Stones played B.C. Place. 

Lead singer Mick Jagger was trying to connect with the crowd at one point, saying "We love your Mr. Trudeau. He is fabulous," referring to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. He was then greeted by loud jeers and boos.

Jagger, who has attended World Cup games, then pivoted and said, "By the way, congratulations on the Canadian soccer team making it to the semi-final." He was quickly greeted by cheers. 

The past week has been a boon for restaurants that have patios.

Coomer, Moreno and Gordon noted that while some people prefer to come inside to enjoy air conditioning, demand for patio seating has extended deeper into the evening given that overnight low temperatures have only been going as low as 15 C or 16 C the last few nights. 

"People are exiting their condos about 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.," Gordon said. "That's when it's busy on the patios. When it's cooler, it's busy from about 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. out there."  

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