The lunch rush felt a little busier on Monday afternoon in Saint John.

It’s day two of the World Cup of Soccer, and a game between Senegal and the Netherlands has Rocky’s Sports Bar in Market Square decorated with soccer fans.

It’s a part of a full month of games, where fans are expected to cheer on Canada and other teams.

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Despite the 11:00 a.m. start time, the games being earlier in the day have opened up the doors to a new wave of business that wouldn’t already be there.

“The start time is really good for us. What they’ll do, they’ll generate business during the off times and hopefully, come in a little earlier. So the 11 o’clock time will bring out people for lunch earlier and hopefully stay throughout the game,” said Rocky’s owner Moe Arsenault.

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He said that while fans have been eager to catch games between teams outside of Canada, the big draw will be when the Canadian team squares off later this week.

“We’re really expecting a big crowd for the Canada games,” said Arsenault, “We’re expecting people to really come out and enjoy the event, and in all, hope Canada does well.”

The buzz through the community was felt all the way to the Saint John Soccer Club, where they’re expecting a large uptick in registration for the 2023 summer following two straight years of gains.

“It’s driving everybody — like, can I be the next one?” said Guy Verna, the Saint John Soccer Club president.

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“I can think that if Canada can win one or two games, it will bring a big outcome for the World Cup — we have never talked about a Canadian team before like this.”

Verna told Global News the excitement surrounding this year’s games is something he hasn’t seen for a long time, saying that he sees a large number of fans anticipating, speculating and talking about the games.

With the growth of the game, Verna hopes to see more professional play in the area.

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“We hope that if we can get more and that it will be better than at least one semi-professional team in New Brunswick,” Verna said.

“Presently we got the CPSL, that is the Canadian Professional League — that is there. So it’s going to it’s (the World Cup) driving us from that.”

Canada is expected to play their first match against Belgium on Wednesday afternoon.


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