Watch the World Cup game at Freedom Plaza


Soccer fans gathered at Dupont Circle for last week’s U.S. World Cup match; tomorrow’s match will be at Freedom Plaza. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

Updated 3:45 p.m. to correct that the U.S. has played World Cup knockout-round games more recently than 1994, and updated 7:50 p.m. to note National Portrait Gallery option

Looking to watch the U.S. soccer team’s big World Cup knockout-round game on a sun-baked stone plinth during what is expected to be one of the hottest days of the year?

Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) has you covered — or uncovered, in this case: The District government, in conjunction with a host of co-sponsors, is hosting a free outdoor watch party Tuesday afternoon at Freedom Plaza, across from the John A. Wilson Building downtown.

Mayoral spokesman Pedro Ribeiro said Gray was inspired to put the event together last Thursday after being “very much taken with” the big crowd that gathered inside the Wilson Building to watch the U.S.-Germany match. A fan there asked Gray if there were plans for other such events should the U.S. advance, Ribeiro said, “and he just turned and said, ‘Why don’t we do something?’ … It just kind of germinated from there.”

Last Thursday’s game was aired at Dupont Circle, but the group that put on that event has not been able to raise the funds necessary for a reprise Tuesday.

The Downtown D.C. Business Improvement District, Events D.C., D.C. United, Akridge, Pepco and CBS 94.7 are pitching in to put on Tuesday’s event, including ponying up for a 17-foot-high big-screen broadcast. The festivities start at 3 p.m., an hour ahead of game time, and attendees may bring blankets and lawn chairs. The event could hold up the evening rush a bit, with some street closures expected adjacent to Freedom Plaza (although 14th Street NW is expected to remain open).

With temperatures expected in the low 90s and high humidity contributing to heat factors near 100, there will be some relief: D.C. Water will have a “misting tent” and free water stations, and additional shade tents are planned.

Ribeiro rejected the suggestion that it might be too hot tomorrow to comfortably watch the game outdoors: “Why don’t we tell the American team to quit then, because I hear it’s pretty hot in Brazil, too,” he said. “If they can play in the tropics then we can all gather together and cheer them on. … It’s going to be hot no matter where you go.”

Faint-hearted fans, however, do have a cooler option: The enclosed, air-conditioned courtyard of the Old Patent Office Building — now home to the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum — will also be hosting fans to watch the 4 p.m. game.

Mike DeBonis covers local politics and government for The Washington Post. He also writes a blog and a political analysis column that runs on Fridays.
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Mike DeBonis · June 30, 2014