Despite the early 8 a.m. start the lions den was alive and roaring as fans filled the bar stools of the Burgundy Lion for England’s first World Cup match of the tournament Monday.
“It’s -30 outside , its 8 a.m. and they are here to watch (soccer) and have a drink – that says a lot,” Burgundy Lion co-owner Paul Desbaillets said.
Close to 30 people, the majority dressed in their white three-lion-crested jerseys, filled the second floor of the English pub.
For some, (soccer) fever has hit hard as a number of patrons chose to watch the beautiful game rather than head into work.
“If there is a game I’m going to watch it, as some employers have found out to their peril unfortunately,” team England fan Sam Hemingway said.
Regardless of the early morning and afternoon scheduling of World Cup games, the most-watched sporting event means big business for local pubs and restaurants, according to Desbaillets.
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Being the first winter tournament for the World Cup, paired with the holiday rush, Concordia University sports economics professor Moshe Lander says the timing couldn’t be better.
“You can make good margins here. People are going to have this booked on their calendar regardless of Christmas, regardless of birthdays, regardless of Thanksgiving sales,” Lander said.
He says owners will hope to capitalize on the culmination of festivities.
“If each of these, 30 costumer’s are dropping $20 to $30 and all you need is a couple of people on staff, you can make a little bit of money. You aren’t in the black but given how hard-hit they have been through the years, this is huge,” Lander said.
Desbaillets says the soccer community in Montreal comes out in droves during the international sporting event.
Banking on national pride having team Canada make a historic return to the World Cup after missing the cut for 36 years brings a new generation of fans to watch the sport, Desbaillets said.
“It just adds a completely new dynamic, being able to support two teams fully all the way down the stretch,” he said, referring to England and Canada.
We won’t wear the half-and-half jersey but we support both countries down the way,” Desbaillets said.
Canada plays its first game of the tournament Wednesday against second-ranked Belgium.
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