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Local News

Santa Barbara Businesses Battle to Be Called World Cup Headquarters

Brasil Arts Café, The Press Room and other establishments cater to soccer fans

Native Brazilian Daniel Chin straddled a drum on Thursday afternoon, belting out a loud, rhythmic tune that played to his audience — nearly 100 fellow countrymen awaiting the kickoff of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in his crowded martial arts studio.

Well, they were Brazilian supporters, at least, some still dressed in business suits and skirts, but most proudly wearing yellow-and-green jerseys to support Brazil in the opening game versus Croatia, one they won 3-1.

Chin calls the Brasil Arts Café Santa Barbara’s headquarters for Brazil, the country hosting the 20th edition of the World Cup tournament, which kicked off Thursday and culminates with a final on July 13 in Rio de Janeiro.

This marked the first time Chin has hosted viewings at his business, which opened last year, although he used to gather friends at Baja Sharkeez or Sandbar since moving to the states in 2000.

Other Santa Barbara businesses also were vying for the title of “World Cup Headquarters” this week, offering drink specials and opening early for the festivities.

Soccer has gained momentum and fans in the United States in recent years, possibly because the USA team has fared better than in the past, Chin said.

Whatever caused the shift matters less than the end result: reveling and profits.

“I’ve been a soccer fan since I was born,” Chin said, nostalgically remembering his favorite players. “We used to be completely full for the Brazilian games.”

Chin is organizing some special events, screening a soccer documentary along with live drumming and dancing on Saturday.

The Press Room on Ortega Street expects to be crowded with soccer supporters from all over, although the bar bills itself as the “unofficial English consulate.”

Owner James Rafferty and son, Jack, a bartender, are both from England, and have hosted viewings of the past four World Cups since opening in 1995.

“We are the World Cup headquarters of Santa Barbara,” Jack Rafferty said.

The Press Room is working with Black Sheep restaurant across the street to deliver sandwiches to fans.

World Cup drink specials will be offered, and games shown at all hours. Rafferty said fans have showed up at 4 a.m. for games, drinking coffee instead of alcohol because it was too early to serve any.

Nearby Dargan’s Pub will open at 8 a.m. for World Cup games, serving breakfast.

This week in Chin’s studio, more than 85 people reserved spots — and that was just for the first game.

Chin expects more folks to get interested as the tournament goes on, and he’s keeping the drum ready.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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