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Peace Plaza to host FIFA World Cup viewing party next month for downtown Rochester

Fans of the FIFA World Cup will have a go-to place to watch the games for free in Rochester as the Downtown Alliance plans to show games from Dec. 9-18 in Peace Plaza.

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The east end of Peace Plaza on Wednesday, Nov. 16 in downtown Rochester, which will soon host a live viewing party of the FIFA World Cup on Dec. 9-18, 2022.
Theodore Tollefson / Post Bulletin
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ROCHESTER — A one-of-a-kind viewing party will happen in downtown Rochester next month as the FIFA World Cup reaches its quarterfinal rounds and beyond.

The Rochester Downtown Alliance will host free showing of the FIFA World Cup in Peace Plaza from Dec. 9-18 on a 19-foot, weatherproof LED screen.

“The goal is to really bring people together,” said Holly Masek, RDA executive director. “We love that this is in a public place that anyone can come to; there's no admission. It's also very accessible to families or any people downtown.”

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The World Cup begins Sunday, Nov. 20 with a Group A match between host country Qatar and Ecuador. Group play continues for roughly two weeks, including the Group of 16 games. Quarterfinal matches begin Saturday, Dec. 9.

With the World Cup hosted in Qatar this year, the time zone difference will have the air time for games at the viewing party starting at 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Having Peace Plaza as the host location for the viewing party allows local businesses to serve as vendors for people wanting food or drink while watching the games.

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The RDA only plans to bring in outside vendors to Peace Plaza for the final day of the viewing party Sunday, Dec. 18.

George Psomas, who owns the 100 on First Avenue building that houses MOKA and five other tenants, is a lifelong soccer fan; his father helped establish Rochester Youth Soccer in the early 1970s.

“I've always been involved in soccer, just promoting the sport and the downtown scene and it was a perfect fit,” said Psomas about the viewing party. “The businesses in the building are used to accommodating all these people from all over the world. All of these businesses are excited to utilize the plaza in its first winter after construction for such a great event.”

One person behind the scenes who saw this as a great opportunity to have a center for the diverse community of Rochester to come together is community advocate Brad Trahan. Trahan, along with the help of Abe Sauer, brought the idea to the Downtown Alliance.

“We were trying to bring people together, and uniting people downtown is a cool idea. I just decided that I wanted to reach out to whoever was possible with the RDA, city council, DMC and local businesses and see if we can pull this off,” said Trahan. “I'm just happy to see that everyone came together with some great ideas. It's more of a prototype though, but this is a good chance to start more things like this for the future.”

Trahan believes if the FIFA World Cup viewing party at Peace Plaza is successful, there could be other viewing parties for future sporting events such as Opening Day for Major League Baseball on March 30 next year.

While some businesses are still configuring their plans for the events that begin Dec. 9, Masek, Trahan, and Psomas all anticipate that many restaurants and bars surrounding Peace Plaza will participate in the event to some capacity.

If people are looking to still gather with the Rochester community for the World Cup in warmer spaces than Peace Plaza. Zen City off of West Circle drive will be hosting a viewing party on Friday, Nov. 25 — the U.S. and England kickoff at 1 p.m. — and Saturday, Nov. 26 — Argentina and Mexico play at 1 p.m.

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Two breweries in town, Little Thistle and Thesis Beer Project, are also planning to have games on during air times while they're open.

Also, Gray Duck Theatre will host daily viewings of the FIFA World Cup starting this Sunday, Nov. 20 until the final game on Sunday, Dec. 18.

Watching the USA

If you're hoping to catch Team USA during the World Cup, here's their games scheduled during group play:
Monday, Nov. 21
1 p.m., USA vs. Wales
Friday, Nov. 25
1 p.m., England vs. USA
Tuesday, Nov. 29
1 p.m. Iran vs. USA

Theodore Tollefson is a business reporter for the Post Bulletin. He is originally from Burnsville, Minn., and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a bachelor's degree in journalism in December 2020. Readers can reach Theodore at 507-281-7420 or ttollefson@postbulletin.com.
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