'World Cup' fever hits Capital Region

June 14, 2018 05:36 PM

ALBANY - The FIFA World Cup is now officially underway in Russia. A new study found one in three Americans will watch this year, despite the fact that Team USA isn't playing.

NewsChannel 13 stopped by one of the most popular viewing spots in the Capital Region on Thursday, Wolff's Biergarten in Albany.

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A smaller crowd had gathered on Thursday afternoon for the Russia Saudi Arabia game, but management likened that to the calm before the storm.

"It's the only place to be," Josh Cranick said.

Cranick is originally from Albany, but now lives in State College, Pa. Though there were several reasons for his visit, he made a point to stop by and enjoy some beer, food and football.

"This is the best atmosphere -- the best beer, the best food, the best people. Mark's a great guy and it's just the best place to be," Cranick said.

Though Nate Bailey's teams aren't playing in the tournament this year, he's still looking forward to watching.

"You know unfortunately, this year the U.S. isn't in it and neither is Scotland, so it kind of takes a little bit of the buzz out of it, but it's still the biggest sporting event in the world," Bailey said.

However, seasoned fans aren't the only ones who come to watch. Albany Biergarten Owner and Manager Mark Graydon said it's a time when many catch football fever.

"We would really encourage people to watch it as a group because that's what really gets people into it," Graydon said.

John Pasquini said it was Ralph Rataul who first got him interested.

"Well for me, it started with him. You know, being an American I wasn't that interested in soccer, but with him being from New Zealand, he first got me into rugby and the Rugby World Cup and that sort of lead into the Soccer World Cup," Pasquini said.

Rataul said Biergarten captures the spirit of international sports very well.

"It's kind of neat to be in an environment that's fostering some of that grassroots growth of fandom," Rataul said.

Graydon said they'll be open when each game airs live. He said he's expecting a huge crowd on Friday at 2 p.m. when Spain takes on Portugal, as well as on Sunday when Germany plays Mexico at 11 a.m.


Emily Burkhard

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