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World Cup soccer fans get nod to drink an hour earlier, at 10 a.m., in Toronto

TORONTO - Toronto soccer fans will have an extra hour to booze it up during the World Cup next month.

TORONTO - Toronto soccer fans will have an extra hour to booze it up during the World Cup next month.

The deputy mayor's proposal to extend drinking hours at bars and restaurants in the morning to line up with the start of some games in host South Africa scored a goal with city councillors.

Joe Pantalone's motion with the bylaw attached was adopted Wednesday afternoon.

"City council has adopted by a vote of 36 in favour and two against extending the hours until 10 a.m. for the World Cup," he said.

"The bylaw is in place as of today and therefore let the good times roll."

It means soccer fans can toast their teams beginning at 10 a.m. between June 11 and July 11 and won't have to wait until the usual 11 a.m. start time for serving alcohol.

Pantalone, who'll be cheering for Italy during the tournament, added he's "ecstatic" fans won't be penalized by the time difference with South Africa.

Manchester United fan Stuart Pattinson, 38, who repairs yachts, thinks council put one in the net with voters, saying it's "tremendous."

"It's one of the best things they've done this year," he said, adding he'll be glued to the TV set for every England game.

"If they can just let England win the Cup that would be even better."

Avery Barker, 28, general manager of McSorley's Wonderful Saloon and Grill, said it will give establishments that don't usually open until 11 a.m. or later incentive to throw open the doors early.

"I think it's great. It brings added revenue to the bar that we wouldn't usually get," said Barker.

Pat Pennman, co-owner of The Football Factory bistro which caters to soccer fans, was watching the Europa Cup final when he heard the news.

"It's wonderful. I'm sure it will make a bit of a difference."

He would have preferred licence to serve alcohol to the breakfast crowd, since early games kick off at 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

"There's going to be that group in the mornings who have to stick with their bacon and eggs and coffee," said Pennman.

It means there will be no tear in the beer of fans of losing teams at breakfast time.

"Those guys are going to have to suffer through the morning if they want to drown their sorrows," said Pennman.

Michael Doyle of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said the company will be opening a new 2,250 sq. m sports bar just prior to the World Cup.

"It's great for the fans ... to be able to get a drink and enjoy the game," Doyle said.

Andrew Weir, spokesman for Tourism Toronto, a non-profit group which promotes the city as a tourist destination, thinks any move that helps communities celebrate their heritage is a good one.

Weir adopts a different team to root for each World Cup and hasn't decided which country to cheer on this year.

He watched Brazil win the Cup in 2002 at a Brazilian bar in Toronto at 4 a.m. and said "it was pandemonium on Dundas Street that day."

Weir said visitors to Toronto will see the city come alive during the tournament.

"When you see the flags on the cars going up and down the street and it really electrifies so many communities around the city, it's one of the most exciting times to be a Torontonian."

 
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