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World Cup viewing in Washington, alfresco


If you can't gain entry into a stadium for a World Cup match, the next-best venue is at Fan Fest, the outdoor viewing parties that began sprouting up in South Korea in 2002 and continued in Germany four years later. In '02, as the surprising Korean team advanced further in the tournament, a million-plus red-clad supporters flooded public areas in Seoul to watch the matches. In Berlin in '06, tens of thousands streamed into the Tiergarten and gathered between Victory Column and Brandenburg Gate.

It's a county fair, cultural festival and ESPN Zone rolled into one.

This year FIFA will organize official Fan Fest events in every South African city hosting matches, as well as in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Sydney, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro.

Fans in Washington might be able to join the fun too -- at Dupont Circle.

From the guy who brought you this winter's massive snowball fight in D.C., an event that utilized social media to spread the word on short notice, Michael Lipin is attempting to gain licenses and permits to stage "Soccer in the Circle" and show matches live on big screens June 11-13 and July 11 (the final). The June 12 matches will include the United States vs. England.

FIFA's deadline to apply for a commercial viewing license is Friday. The fees -- in this case, $1,000 -- go to a FIFA charity. (No, not Jack Warner's bank account.) The Washington organizers say they plan to go forward with the application.

Lipin, an Oxford graduate who works for Voice of America, and co-organizer Aaron DeNu have reached out to the South African Embassy, National Park Service, Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commission and D.C. United. The embassy, Lipin said, has agreed to be a partner. Organizers will need to raise several thousand dollars to rent the screens and pay for related expenses. They are seeking corporate sponsors but also hoping soccer fans will contribute to the effort through a Facebook campaign.

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By Steve Goff  |  May 5, 2010; 12:22 AM ET
Categories:  2010 World Cup , FIFA  | Tags: Dupont Circle, FIFA, Fan Fest, South Africa, World Cup, soccer  
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Next: Wednesday kickaround


Awesome!! I'd pay to experience that.

Posted by: grubbsbl | May 5, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse

I love the idea of big screens and a crowd to watch the games; a big thumbs up to the effort.

But Dupont Circle? Doesn't it seem like a difficult place to view huge outdoor screens with all the trees and the fountain?

Regardless, I hope it happens...and in other locations, too.

Posted by: PrinceBuster21 | May 5, 2010 1:11 AM | Report abuse

Obstructions would make it difficult in DuPont but I'll take that over cramming into Cafe Citron or Lucky Bar to see part of a TV screen, which is what I was reduced to doing during the last WC.

Posted by: Southeasterner | May 5, 2010 1:21 AM | Report abuse

This is awesome. It seems like Coke should have been working on doing this same thing in Centennial Park all along. Would have been great for them, as a huge Fifa sponsor and right next to the World of Coke and practically in the shadows of their headquarters. Maybe I'll send an email today...

Posted by: JacobfromAtlanta-ish | May 5, 2010 4:46 AM | Report abuse

There will be a viewing party for the USA vs. England game on June 12th at Mr. Days in Arlington. All the money collected from the viewing party will benefit United for DC.

The bar will open up at 10AM for the Nigeria Argentina match with specials running throughout the day. More details to come.

Posted by: AllYouNeedIsHops | May 5, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who don't know United for DC is the charitable arm of DC United

Posted by: AllYouNeedIsHops | May 5, 2010 7:08 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, fantastic idea. I went to some in Austria and Germany during Euro 2000 and had a great time.

But as others have said, Dupont might be tough viewing. Malcolm X Park, near the Sylvan Theater (by the Washington Monument), Ft. Reno might all be easier logistics-wise.

Either way, hope this happens, it'd be a blast.

(oh, or Lot 8! So we could have beer, too)

Posted by: eadc | May 5, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

What about watching it in 3d?

Oh, and Al Fresco used to be my radio name.

Posted by: Reignking | May 5, 2010 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Sounds great, I really need to take that first Friday off. I think the England match might require the laser-like focus my living room can provide - and HD with the sound way up.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 5, 2010 8:32 AM | Report abuse

I'll be wherever the rowdy bunch will be. Molly Malone's is usually rocking for US games, but squeezing everyone upstairs makes for a fire marshall's nightmare. I'm also taking Friday the 11th off. I've been waiting for this for too long to watch at work silently.

I'm also torn between rooting for CONCACAF teams or rooting against Mexico.

Posted by: wanker82 | May 5, 2010 8:41 AM | Report abuse

thanks to all for the feedback! we aim to set up screens on opposite sides of dupont circle's fountain (facing north and south) which are high enough for hundreds of people to see the games from either the inner concrete pavement of the circle or the grass around it. we're meeting with the national park service next week to discuss logistics, too. a key advantage of dupont circle park is the great location - right next to a metro station (also close to many bars and restaurants which we hope will benefit from the extra crowds!)

Posted by: mlipin | May 5, 2010 8:48 AM | Report abuse

mlipin: might I suggest you contact USA supporter groups the American Outlaws and DC's own Screaming Eagles, if you haven't already. they might be able to give you the help you will need.

Posted by: bonghits4gomez | May 5, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Well done. Wish there was something here in Atlanta (or that I had thought about it!).

Posted by: Reignking | May 5, 2010 9:00 AM | Report abuse

last time I was in DC for a WC, I watched the final at Childe Harold on Dupont. I'll definitely be on the circle again if the screens are up.

Posted by: troy6 | May 5, 2010 9:10 AM | Report abuse

1. Childe Harold RIP.

2. Security by the American Outlaws? Altamont Speedway -- Gimme Shelter.

3. Great idea, lousy location.

Posted by: OWNTF | May 5, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Agreed, great idea, lousy location. Isn't there a block on the Mall available, at least for the US games?

Posted by: -rke- | May 5, 2010 10:09 AM | Report abuse

This would be terrific!!! I hope that other communities with open green parks can be inspired by this idea and have outdoor viewing parties, too. Regardless though I hope the DuPont Circle event is a success.

Posted by: Susannah3 | May 5, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

This is a good idea. I'll go there if it happens. It is possible that it out-draws its capacity for everyone to get a good view of the screens - though the two screen idea will help. Audio would be nice, too, if it can be loud enough for people to hear the play-by-play.

Thanks for your work, Michael.

I like your sense of fun - snowball fights and soccer viewing parties are great ways to bring joy to the masses.

Posted by: WorldCup | May 5, 2010 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I know it'd probably be impossible, but the only -- and best -- place to hold an outdoor watch party is on the Mall.

Posted by: Juan-John1 | May 5, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Stop whining about the location. Michael Lipin et al. are doing something novel, something that shows DC to be a soccer city. If anyone here can do it better then do it.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 5, 2010 10:47 AM | Report abuse

@I-270 -- I'm guessing people are just trying to be helpful, identifying possible problems and suggesting alternatives. The Dupont idea has some merit in that it's close to many bars. There's a little pulse there, that might not be in other locations. I also imagine the location was chosen in part because of the proximity to and the involvement of the South African Embassy.

On the other hand, the Mall does offer better prospects for allowing large numbers to congregate and view. I don't think you can fit that many people in the Circle, especially if the screens are facing north and south only.

To correct something Goff wrote -- these fan fests definitely predate Seoul. I remember seeing games in huge open space in Paris -- might have been Place de la Concorde, but I won't swear to it. There were many thousands of people there -- much more than I expect to see at RFK tonight. Dupont Circle couldn't accommodate anything like it.

If I might suggest an alternative -- one of my favorite spots in the city -- used to be a favorite place for playing soccer until the city decided to fix it up and restore the grass -- Meridien Hill Park. Great, straight vistas facing south. Plus the sloping nature of the park might make it easier for a lot of people to see the screens. Also, very close to the U Street scene. Of course, there's no reason why there should be only one FanFest location....

Posted by: fischy | May 5, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Meridien Hill also has an advantage in that the park isn't surrounded by the busiest intersection in the city. Would be much more plausible to provide audible audio. Being close to Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant might make it more attractive to big immigrant populations, who don't have a nearby Metro. Just my 2 cents.

Posted by: fischy | May 5, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

This is a great idea in theory, but remember that it will be summer in DC. Do you really want to be standing outside in the hot, humid sun to watch games in the afternoon?

I'll stick with my favorite watering holes ...

Posted by: jofij | May 5, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

This is a great idea in theory, but remember that it will be summer in DC. Do you really want to be standing outside in the hot, humid sun to watch games in the afternoon?


Isn't that why God invented ice cold beer?

Posted by: OWNTF | May 5, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Adidas should bring back the Fevernova.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | May 5, 2010 12:34 PM | Report abuse

$1 will be donated to Soccer in the Circle when you use coupon code "Dupont" to purchase The American Fan's World Cup Handbook at

Posted by: la2stl | May 5, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

All joking aside, Mr. Goff, wouldn't right about now be an interesting time for the Post to do a proper investigative exposé on Jack Warner/CONCACAF/FIFA?

Posted by: michanikos1 | May 5, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

other places might be better to view games but no place is better (or more convenient) for a viewing party. great idea if it can be pulled off.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | May 5, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like fun, just don't kick a soccer ball at an off duty cop's SUV...

Posted by: DadRyan | May 5, 2010 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Soccer sucks.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | May 5, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Doosh bag trolls suck rotten eggs. Go choke on a baseball bat jockstrap sniffer.

Posted by: DadRyan | May 5, 2010 5:16 PM | Report abuse

Soccer sucks.

Posted by: MACCHAMPS04 | May 5, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse


Why spend the time to post this? Did it make you feel better? Well, you showed us didn't you!

Posted by: croftonpost | May 5, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I here Tuscana West on I street will be airing all the games and offering daily specials. Anyone else here anything about this?

Posted by: pkern | May 7, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

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