Word Cup Free For All

Soccer fans rejoice! The biggest event of the sport will be broadcast free to all residents.

Sandwiched between the borough president’s office and Yankee Stadium, the 161st Street Business Improvement District will set up a nine-foot television screen that will show live broadcasts of at least three events from the Word Cup in Lou Gehrig Park. The first showing will be of the breakout round from Nelson Mandela Stadium, in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 26. At 2 p.m. the same day, the breakout round from the royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg, South Africa will also be shown.

If funding allows, the BID will broadcast the World Cup Third Place playoffs from Nelson Mandela Stadium at 2 p.m. July 10. The last showing will be the World Cup finals from Soccer City Stadium, in Johannesburg, South Africa, at 2 p.m. July 11.

“It’s the World Cup and we’re here in the shadow of the world champion New York Yankees,” BID executive director, Cary Goodman, said standing in Lou Gerhig Park at a press conference Thursday, June 10. “We want this to be a world class event. We’re trying to make this plaza a world class place where people can enjoy sports. The World Cup is the biggest, most diverse event in sports and the Bronx is enormously diverse. We want to get everyone enjoying each other’s cultures and World Cup is a great opportunity for that.”

Two-hundred folding chairs will fill the plaza in Lou Gehrig Park, and seating will be first come first served. The BID is the sole sponsor for the event.Currently the BID, which is funded through an annual assessment of the businesses in the district, only has enough money to show the three events, but Goodman hopes some last minute donations can add the fourth event. According to Goodman, the screenings cost about $4,000 each.

“It’s worth it if it brings people together to enjoy the World Cup.”

According to Donovan Rowe, who coaches for Bronx Lyons, a team that plays in the White Plains Road area and is affiliated with the Westchester Youth Soccer League, there is a lot more excitement about the games after the U.S. team tied 1 to 1 with Great Britain in its first game of the World Cup. The tie was regarded as a major upset, since the U.S. team was expected to lose. Rowe said kids from his club would likely travel to see the games if they have time.

“We’re not that far. Most of the people could take advantage of it if they wanted, but some could be at work at that time,” he said.

Reach reporter Max Mitchell at (718) 742-3394 or mmitchell@cnglocal.com

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