Washington Spirit have planned three watch parties for the USA vs. Vietnam, Canada vs. Ireland, and USA vs. Netherlands group stage games of the 2023 FIFA World Cup – with more likely to come in the knockout stages.
The team will host events for the first two USWNT games at The Bullpen in Navy Yard, Washington, DC. The first is tonight’s United States match against Vietnam at 9 p.m., with doors opening at 4 p.m. The second match is at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26, when the USWNT take on the Netherlands.
The third watch party will be a smaller event at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, July 26, at O’Sullivan’s in Arlington, VA, for the match-up between Canada and the Republic of Ireland. If the teams featuring Spirit players advance in the World Cup, more watch parties will be planned for games in the knock-out stages.
Emma May, president of business operations, said the Spirit wanted to “galvanize the soccer fan base in DC around the World Cup” to ensure that the team was well-placed to take advantage of a possible increased interest in women’s soccer after the tournament.
“We also knew of course that we were going to have a lot of players playing,” May said, “and I think we’ve talked a little bit before about our desire to really tell our players’ stories and make sure that they get all of the starlight that they can possibly get, so we wanted to make sure that we were being loud about our players while they were overseas.”
All three events will include drink specials, new Spirit merchandise for sale, and some giveaways of items like koozies and posters. May said they will also be offering a deal for fans who purchase a shirt at the event to buy a ticket to the Spirit’s July 28 home game for $10.
Anna Heilferty will be making appearance at tonight’s watch party, although most of the other players traveled to North Carolina for this weekend’s Challenge Cup match and are unavailable. May said they were hopeful about getting “a few more” players at next week’s events.
The Spirit have hosted watch parties for their own away games at Wunder Garten this year, but they were looking for something else for their World Cup watch parties.
“We looked all over the city for spaces,” May said. They wanted a venue that was in a good location, had enough capacity for large watch parties, and had food and beverages available. Located in Navy Yard, The Bullpen met all of the team’s needs. May said holding the events at this location was ideal because it is walkable for many of the young adults and working professionals that the Spirit are trying to currently market to and could help the team “get more engrained in the communities that are close to us at Audi Field,” including Ward 6, which she said is very important to the organization.
The Bullpen also met the Spirit’s capacity needs: they’re hoping for a crowd of at least 1000 fans. By Thursday afternoon, the Spirit had received over 700 RSVPs for tonight’s event, and they anticipate some foot traffic from a 7 p.m. Nationals game nearby. RSVPs are not required, but May said they help the team plan.
For those looking to watch games closer to their homes, the Spirit have also partnered with other bars in the area that will be showing the two USWNT games: Astro Beer Hall and Wunder Garten in DC, Tom’s Watch and Canton Local in Maryland, and O’Connells and O’Sullivans in Virginia. All will be receiving packages of Spirit decorations and merchandise to giveaway, and the Spirit Front Office aim to send representatives to as many as possible.
“We’re so excited,” May said, “Hope to see our Spirits play… play period and also play well. We’re really, really pumped.”