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World Cup soccer games drawing big crowds

The Buffalo Niagara region’s reception for the World Cup keeps getting bigger.

Today’s game between the United States and Belgium will be televised on big screens at Canalside – like the past two U.S. games – and it will also be broadcast for the public on a large screen at Old Falls and Third streets in Niagara Falls.

“Take a great soccer game, add in a big outdoor viewing screen, tasty food, beer and wine and suddenly you have a party no one will want to miss,” said Chris Schoepflin, president of USA Niagara Development Corp.

The two previous viewing parties at Canalside on the Buffalo waterfront were such big hits that Niagara County Legislator Jason Zona thought Niagara Falls should get in on the fun with its own party, organizers said.

Global Spectrum manages events at both the Buffalo and Niagara Falls venues.

The game begins at 4 p.m., but soccer fans are encouraged to grab their lawn chairs and show up at either Canalside or Old Falls Street starting at 3 p.m.

Organizers have been thrilled with the turnout at the previous two viewing parties at Canalside, where 5,000 people showed up to watch the heart-pounding 2-2 game against Portugal and an estimated 3,000 came out for the 1-0 loss against Germany.

Organizers expect about 3,000 people to show up at Canalside today to watch the Team USA in the Round of 16.

Plenty of local bars and restaurants have also showed the games to large crowds.

Mes Que, 1420 Hertel Ave., has been soccer central since the World Cup began, but some of the other popular spots have been: Acropolis, 708 Elmwood Ave.; Pappa Jake’s Saloon, 1672 Elmwood; Cafe Aroma, 957 Elmwood; Mr. Goodbar, 1110 Elmwood; Globe Market, 1416 Hertel Ave.; Salumeria Belsito, 1368 Hertel; The Lodge, 79 W. Chippewa St; Soho Burger Bar, 64 W. Chippewa; Bada Bing, 42 W. Chippewa; and Pizza Plant, which has two locations in Amherst, at 5110 Main St. and 7770 Transit Road.