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Carmike to host USA World Cup games

Carmike to host USA World Cup games

Carmike to host USA World Cup games

Local soccer fans watch at Carmike Ci...


        The World Cup, soccer’s biggest event, kicked off Thursday.
          If you’re a fan of Team USA, don’t worry. You haven’t missed any games yet.
         And if you are looking for a place to watch the USA’s games with fellow aficionados, the Carmike Theater will once again host all of the team’s World Cup games in the Backstage Café.
         Team USA will open its World Cup schedule at 6 p.m. Monday with revenge on its mind when it faces Ghana. Ghana eliminated USA in both 2006 (in the group stage) and 2010 (in the round of 16).
         Carmike Theater will provide live coverage starting at 5:30 p.m. Monday in the Backstage Café. Admission for the showing is free, and the doors will open at 4:45 p.m. start. 
        This is the second time that Carmike will open its doors to show USA’s World Cup games. The last World Cup game shown in the Carmike saw Ghana beat USA 2-1 in 2010.
        Tiffany Hedrick, manager of Carmike Theaters, said she is happy the theater is able to accommodate the World Cup in the theater lineup.
        “We are showing this event because we have had people asking us if we were going to, and we are able to work the movie schedule around the games,” Hedrick said. “And we want to allow our guests to enjoy the benefits of the café while relaxing and enjoying the World Cup on the big screen.”
        Cheri Wagner, a devoted soccer fan who also happens to be a Bulloch County school board member, had the original idea for Carmike to show World Cup soccer games.
        “Four years ago, I wanted to be able to be among fellow soccer fans watching the U.S. men’s national team play on a big screen television,” Wagner said. “Knowing that Carmike Cinema showed NFL games in the café, I contacted the manager, and we began discussions on showing the World Cup games. It was decided to show one game and, depending upon attendance, maybe more. By the third game, the theater was full.”
        Kevin Kennedy, the head coach of Georgia Southern University’s men’s soccer team, said he is excited that Carmike will show the games again and credited Wagner for her efforts.
         “For the 2010 World Cup, Cheri arranged for the U.S. matches to be shown at the theater, and we were able to take our entire residential camp there to see the second-round match featuring the U.S. vs. Ghana,” Kennedy said. “And it was a pretty special experience for the campers and the city of Statesboro.”
        While soccer is the world’s most popular sport, it isn’t quite as esteemed by the American public. But even casual sports fans get excited about Team USA during the World Cup. And the sport steadily has been growing more popular since the U.S. hosted the 1994 World Cup, which is widely credited with spawning Major League Soccer.
        “Soccer’s popularity is at an all-time high right now in the United States, and World Cup years are always very exciting,” Kennedy said. “There is more soccer being televised now than there ever has been, through a number of media outlets. People have the opportunity to see English Premier League, MLS, La Liga and Champions League matches on a regular basis.
         “And now, fans will have a chance to see World Cup games daily for nearly a month,” he added. “The fact that Carmike Theater is opening their venue for the U.S. matches is a testament to the growing popularity of the sport.”

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