by James Hudson
Downtown Tucson was buzzing on Congress St. by 1 p.m. today for USA's Round of 16 World Cup match against Belgium. From its west end at Elliott's On Congress all the way down to Hi Fi Kitchen and Cocktails, soccer diehards and fair-weather fans alike gave local businesses a spike in traffic on what normally would be a sleepy shift.
For many of the early-afternoon fans, Bloody Mary's were followed by what seems to be the unofficial beer of the World Cup: Bud Light. "So much Bud Light. Just aluminum cans of Bud and Bud Light, all day long," as Playground Bar and Lounge Director of Operations Sandy Ford put it.
Outside of the usual appetizers at self-proclaimed sports bars such as World of Beer, The Rialto Theater clearly held the gastronomical advantage with Gio Taco's portable grill setup, offering made-to-order pollo asado and carne adasa tacos.
Not surprisingly, the most rabid fans could be found at Playground. The bar and lounge has become a year-round default destination for Tucson's soccer enthusiasts. Playground's main indoor bar hit maximum capacity by 12:30 p.m., and its covered rooftop viewing area wasn't far behind.
With today's 2-1 extra time loss to Belgium, the USA team will be coming home, but have plenty to be proud of. Belgium advances to the quarterfinals this Saturday against Argentina.