K-W businesses benefit from World Cup boost as fans enjoy early morning drinks
Waterloo region soccer fans were up and bright and early Monday morning – and thanks to a temporary extension of alcohol sales, some were also enjoying an early morning pint.
At the Duke of Wellington in Waterloo, some lined up outside ahead of the 8 a.m. kickoff between England and Iran at the World Cup.
“It was kind of neat to show up at 7:45,” Jay Leonard, a soccer fan said. “And I wasn’t the first person here, or the first person with a pint.”
The temporary extension, approved by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), allows bars and restaurants to serve alcohol starting at 7 a.m. during the World Cup. That’s two hours earlier than the current provincial standard.
“One of the better Monday mornings I’ve had in a while,” said soccer fan Alex MacFarlane. “We had a mimosa but that’s it, still got some work to do today.”
The change in AGCO rules came just two days before the tournament started in Qatar and allows fans to grab a drink during early morning games, given the eight hour time difference between Qatar and Ontario.
It’s a move Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and the Duke of Wellington both called for.
SOCCER FANS SHOW UP TO SUPPORT THEIR TEAMS
"We get a lot of die-hard soccer fans that will come out for every game which is fantastic, but always for the England games, there's usually a really good crowd and it's great that we can serve alcohol at 7 a.m. in the morning," Duke of Wellington owner Desi Fatkin said.
Despite the excitement at the pub Monday, fans say the game they’re really looking forward to is Canada’s first match. Scheduled for Wednesday, the squad will take on Belgium at 2 p.m.
Team Canada will face off against Croatia on Nov. 27, followed by a meeting on the pitch with Morocco on Dec. 1.
Later in the day, Soccer fans flocked to Edelweiss Tavern in Kitchener as the USA faced off against Wales.
“On Sunday, we’re over half full with reservations now of big groups of people coming out to want to support and get excited about Canada,” said Edelweiss Tavern general manager Jason Miller.
TEAM PARAPHERNALIA SALES SKYROCKET
That excitement was also felt in stores where fans could get their hands on team merchandise.
“In terms of sales it’s crazy,” said Richie Antolcic, general manager at The Sports Link in downtown Kitchener. “I would say our best seller is Canada right, they haven’t been in the tournament for 36 years.”
The Sports Link estimates a 50 to 60 per cent increase in sales since the tournament kicked off.
Soccer fans say they aren’t hesitant to invest a couple of hundred dollars when it comes to their favourite teams.
“My wife supports me loving the sport, and this only happens every four years, so it's worth it,” said avid soccer fan Troy Chen.