Major soccer broadcasts kick off June 6 at Finn McCool’s.
At a time when most of the city’s Friday night sports revelry is finally winding down, a growing number of New Orleanians brave predawn darkness to start the day with the clinking of pint glasses in one of the only enclaves in town where they can gather and get their fix.
It’s six o’clock in the morning in New Orleans — noon in London — which means European soccer leagues are kicking off a day of competition, and in an unassuming section of Mid-City between South Carrollton Avenue and South Jefferson Davis Parkway, a former double-shotgun house on Banks Street is buzzing. More than 100 fans in jerseys of multiple colors come together to watch as many as six different games at a time televised from the far corners of the world.
For much of the year, Saturdays and Sundays mean Finn McCool’s Irish Pub is open 21 hours straight to accommodate its clientele’s insatiable appetite for soccer and domestic sports. Stephen and Pauline Patterson, who moved to New Orleans from Belfast in the ’90s, own the bar. After a decade tending bar at O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel Pub, they opened Finn’s in 2002. Since then, Finn’s has become the city’s hub for viewing major soccer events. Last summer, the bar was the epicenter for World Cup viewing parties — with standing-room-only crowds that spilled out into a block partylike atmosphere.
Finn McCool’s has become internationally renowned for its dedication and allegiance to the game and its fans. This year, The Irish Times of Dublin even included the pub as one of its “Top 10 Irish Bars Outside of Ireland” as part of its Generation Emigration Project.
“I’m very proud of it,” Stephen Patterson says of the ranking. “It’s something we’ve aimed for. It’s definitely a niche, which has grown organically from a grassroots level.
“We had maybe 10 to 12 guys getting together to watch the one EPL game we got in the States,” Patterson says of the bar’s start. “Over the years, the networks have seen the value of broadcasting soccer. Now we can get every single game live. We actually get more soccer here than they do in Ireland and the UK.”
Patterson says this has translated into as many as 200 fans showing up before breakfast to be part of the spirit of the game.
Finn’s will once again be a magnet for soccer fans this month. Starting June 6, regulars will make room for fans of the Champions League Final — a qualifying event for next summer’s European Championship — as well as fans of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and a five-game home stand by the New Orleans Jesters.
Champions League Final
The biggest professional soccer game of the year also kicks off June 6 at 1:45 p.m. CST. The UEFA Champions League Final is the culmination of a season-long tournament of Europe’s best professional teams. More viewers are expected to watch this game than any other this year. The collective talent in this match will exceed almost all of the matches from last summer’s World Cup. Expect a passionate, energetic and fun crowd.
Women’s World Cup
The U.S. Women’s National Team has won two World Cups and is a contender for this year’s title. All 23 players are capable of being starters. This means the U.S. team will have depth, which is essential over the 30-day tournament. The tournament begins June 6, with the United States facing group-round foes Australia on June 8 at 6:30 p.m., Sweden on June 12 at 7 p.m., and Nigeria on June 16 at 7 p.m. The knockout stage begins on June 20, culminating in the final on July 5.
New Orleans Jesters
If you prefer live action, the New Orleans Jesters begin their season with a five game home stand June 6. Season tickets cost $50, and include entry to all home games, any friendlies added to the schedule, pregame tailgates with all-you-can-eat and drink barbecue and beer (while supplies last), $2 beers in the stands (normally $5), and postgame parties at Finn’s with coaches and players.
U.S. Women’s National Team Women’s World Cup
– Group Stage Schedule
• 6/8 Australia – 6:30 p.m.
• 6/12 Sweden – 7 p.m.
• 6/16 Nigeria – 7 p.m.
New Orleans Jesters June Schedule
• 6/6 Chattanooga FC – 7 p.m.
• 6/13 Houston Hurricanes – 7 p.m.
• 6/20 Knoxville Force – 7 p.m.
• 6/24 Atlanta Silverbacks Reserves – 7 p.m.
• 6/27 Georgia Revolution – 7 p.m.
Chris Price is an award-winning journalist and public relations principal. When he’s not writing, he’s avid about music, the outdoors, and Saints, Ole Miss and Chelsea football.