Every four years, Americans adopt the rest of the world’s favorite pastime. And this year for the World Cup, Puma partnered with South Street Seaport restaurant Red to create New York’s booziest soccer cash cow: Puma City, a pop-up soccer amusement park, which opened today to throngs of unemployed or work-ditching soccer fans.
“Are y’all ready for South Africa versus Mexico?” a Puma MC yelled to a crowd of about 100 early-bird fans gathered at tables outside the restaurant at the start of the South Africa vs. Mexico game. Christine Perrault, the first customer of the day, showed up at 8 a.m., an hour before Puma City opened. “I wanted to get a prime spot, and I think I got a prime spot,” she said, enjoying a beer at a table situated directly in front of the big-screen TV. Perrault, who works in college admissions, had been waiting for this moment for months, counting down with an ESPN iPhone app. Today, she is finally having a “wonderful day off.”
Being so close the Financial District, Puma City also attracted some soccer fans in suits. “It’s ‘the Beautiful Sport,'” said one businessman between meetings “and Americans are finally understanding the great finesse behind it — sports like basketball are all about scoring every two minutes, but soccer is an art. It builds up tension and never lets you down.” Clearly, he spends a lot of time thinking about this at the office. No wonder our economy is booming.
One thing that is booming is soccer, and there were plenty of fans decked out in team colors. But if full-time World Cup attendee were a job, this guy, Matthew Windey, would be the CEO:
“I think I’m going to come here every day,” said Windey, a recent New York Film Academy graduate. Just after the game began at 10 a.m., most of the crowd had beers in hand, but people were remarkably calm. Windey said he hopes the rowdiness picks up.
Red Bar isn’t the only attraction in Puma’s new city. Overtaking a large portion of South Street Seaport, Puma has set up two pop-up shops, one for clothes and one for shoes and cleats. Next door, they have an interactive soccer mini-field with scheduled events all day, and there’s also a customized T-shirt station and an art station, as well as ping-pong, foosball, and the indoor soccer nightclub, Puma Social Club.
Red, the restaurant that has essentially become Puma City’s town hall, also runs the two bars at the Puma Social Club. A half-hour into Day 1, Red’s General manager, Ridgely Trufant, was wowed by the business. “It’s pretty amazing to already be cranking it out at 9:30 in the morning,” she said. Expecting to make bank this month, she added breakfast, doubled her staff, and is carefully adjusting her business to ensure that every fan is properly fed and watered (with beer), though she thinks of it as “like doing theater — producing a show.”
The show’s running from today until July 11, and it’s a must-see for any fair-weather soccer fan — er, “futball” fan, as they prefer in Puma City. So get there early to score a prime seat.