Bar operators throughout Hull city centre are braced for a bout of football fever and hoping a first winter World Cup will boost business and pave the way to a cracking Christmas.
Most pubs in the city centre will be showing all 64 matches live on TV during the tournament, which kicks off at 4pm on Sunday 20 November with hosts Qatar playing Ecuador.
It will conclude at 3pm on Sunday 18 December with the final, and fans are already pinning their hopes on England to do well, with sports bars reporting a sell-out of the best seats in the house.
Lucas Billingham, one of the owners of Kicks Bar & Grill in Paragon Street, Hull, said: “It’s standing room only for England v USA and it’s heading that way for England v Wales. People can still book seats and booths for the other games but they are selling fast and demand will pick up for the big games to come in the knockout stages.”
Kicks Bar & Grill has proved a big hit with fans of all the major sporting events since opening in September.
Lucas said all the England games will be ticketed to help his team manage the numbers of people expected to descend on the bar, which will offer the ultimate experience of a screen at every eye line, video wall and state of the art surround sound.
For £5 fans can buy a standing ticket with their first drink free and there are various packages for booths and tables building up to the upstairs VIP box where, for £1,000, up to 30 people can share a beer keg of up to 176 pints and a hot or cold buffet in a luxurious private room with giant TV and 3D surround sound.
Lucas said: “It’s a bit of an unknown entity for us because it’s a winter World Cup. We would expect to be busy anyway as we approach Christmas and it may be that some people will combine the football with their festive nights out.
“We’ll be adding to the fun with DJ sessions featuring music relevant to the teams so people won’t feel they need to dash off when the matches finish.”
In the Old Town, the City Hotel will be showing all the games and Oscars, O’Leary’s, Telstar 2 and Tiffany’s plan to show as many as possible. In the Marina area, Humber Dock Bar & Grill plans to show all the games as does Taphouse in Humber Street. Social in Humber Street plans to show England’s matches against Iran and Wales, with Tribal Bar & Grill in Humber Street also gearing up for a busy month of sporting action.
Tom Jessop, assistant manager at Tribal, said: “We get busy with football, rugby and the big boxing events and we’re already getting a lot of bookings for the World Cup. Some matches more than others, and England v USA on a Friday evening will be a big one.”
Tribal offers eight bars inside and two more facing out onto Humber Street and, with a capacity of 150, Tom is looking forward to bigger crowds than they were able to welcome for the Euros last year.
He said: “With so many screens we can make sure we are able to show every match live, even when other events are on – including the final games of the group stage with simultaneous kick-off times.
“We’re looking forward to it, in part because we couldn’t really make the most of the Euros because of the Covid restrictions, but also because it’s the World Cup and they don’t come around very often. We’re getting a lot of people calling and emailing with bookings, anything from two people to 10.”
Other big World Cup venues include Hull Cheese in Paragon Street and the Dram Shop in George Street, which will both be showing every match.