St. Albert soccer fans will be among the hundreds of millions watching the World Cup final Sunday, but the big game isn’t expected to kick up huge interest locally.
The final match between Spain and the Netherlands is expected to beat the 715 million who tuned into the 2006 final, when the tournament was hosted in Germany.
It is also estimated to be a capacity crowd in Johannesburg, South Africa at the national stadium.
The St. Albert Soccer Association will host a World Cup event for members and friends that organizers expect will be standing room only.
“We have had some pretty full houses already,” said Melody Martyn, the association’s executive director.
Martyn said England, which was eliminated early on, was by far the largest draw during the month-long tournament, but other teams have also generated healthy crowds.
For Sunday’s game, she expects the club’s loyalties will be split right down the middle.
“I am pretty sure we are to have some very spirited cheering sections on both sides.”
Sports bars across the city are expecting good crowds for the final match, but the beautiful game hasn’t been as big a draw as some had hoped.
Troy Marchak, owner of the Crown & Tower, said he initially thought about applying to open extra early for the games, but is glad he didn’t.
“There really hasn’t been that much interest.”
Marchak conceded there have been some fans out to watch. Based on previous games he expects a largely Dutch following Sunday.
O’Maille’s Irish Pub owner Billy McBain said he expects to attract a similar clientele.
“The orange seems to be noticeable in the audience.”
Even though there hasn’t been that much interest in the World Cup, McBain said he still expects a healthy turnout on Sunday.
“Ever since England went out it has been downhill I have to admit, but you still get some people watching,” he said. “Hopefully it will be a good day for us.”
Shea Kieser, manager of Game On Sports in St. Albert Centre, said jersey sales have been very strong during the World Cup. Even as teams have been eliminated, people have been coming in and finding new colours, she said.
“There were a few bandwagon jumpers that were coming in while the game was on looking for the jerseys.”
Kieser said the top sellers were the Netherlands and Germany, which are now completely sold out.
Spain’s uniforms haven’t sold as quickly, but are still moving.
“I have one Spain jersey left, they are selling, but not as quickly as the Netherlands were even at the beginning. I had people coming in and asking about Netherlands gear.”
Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. on Sunday.