The world’s biggest single-event sporting competition begins this week in Brazil. While soccer doesn’t have the following in Hawaii that American football does, local residents and visitors alike are sure to be tuning in for the next month.
So, even if you don’t know Cristiano Ronaldo from Lionel Messi or David Luiz from David Silva, here is a look at five places on the Big Island to watch the FIFA World Cup matches, which begin Thursday with group stage matches and run through the July 13:
Laverne’s Sports Bar
Location: 75-5819 Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona
Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Will open earlier as needed for U.S. matches and possibly others)
TVs: 21, all high-definition.
The pitch: If this was a cup competition, Laverne’s might be the favorite to be holding the trophy aloft when it’s all said and done. After seeing sizable crowds for the 2010 World Cup matches, Laverne’s has been preparing for this year’s competition, with a complete schedule adorning the bar for weeks and newly hung flags. An open-air bar and restaurant, Laverne’s is a bit like the World Cup itself, in that it appeals to the masses with a menu that ranges from breakfast to barbecue and from Hawaiian dishes to mainland favorites.
Dolphin Spit Saloon
Location: 75-5629 Kuakini Highway Suite F, Kailua-Kona
TVs: 10, all high-definition
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. (Will open at 9 a.m. for some matches)
The pitch: Technically not a sports bar, Dolphin Spit bills itself as “a bar without a porpoise” and strives to focus on customer service. The saloon does not have a restaurant, but food is available at a Chinese barbecue next door. The amount of TVs and the commitment to sports programming will make the recently opened Dolphin Spit a Big Island destination for fans, especially those looking to avoid tourist-heavy Alii Drive.
Cronie’s Bar and Grill
Location: 11 Waianuenue Ave., Hilo
TVs: Nine, four high-definition
Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Will open at 9 a.m. if U.S. plays at that time)
The pitch: Despite its name, Cronies isn’t looking to cater to old drinking buddies, but instead bills itself as a family establishment that promotes good service, hot food and cold drinks.
Location: 1550 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo
TVs: Two, both high-definition, on lanai; seven, all high-definition, in the sports bar
The pitch: Coquis offers something for everyone. The sports bar doesn’t normally open in time for the World Cup matches, but management will allow fans watch there if demand is high enough. There’s also plenty to do during halftime, with a game room that includes pool tables and shuffleboard. The menu features American and local cuisine.
Location: 81-970 Halekii St., Kealakekua
TVs: Three, including a 10-foot projection screen, and two high-definition
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
The pitch: More than just a pool hall, the Korner Pocket is known for its prime rib and hamburgers. The full-service restaurant and bar doesn’t have many TVs, but its customers often tune in to sports on the projection-screen TV that is among the biggest on the Big Island.