It's not unusual for baseball or football games to draw tens of thousands of eager fans.
Tomorrow, some 70,000 soccer fans will flood M&T; Bank Stadium for the AC Milan-Chelsea match. The sold-out game promises to be one of the year's biggest events at the stadium - a huge statement for a sport that is usually overshadowed by football, baseball, swimming - and even golf.
That means some Baltimore bars are going to be swamped with pre- and post-game revelers. Add to that the droves of fans who didn't score tickets for tomorrow's match but still want to see it on a flat-screen TV - preferably with a draft Guinness or another overseas brew in hand.
Here are a few city pubs that are going all-out for the game.
For years, Slainte Irish Pub & Restaurant (1700 Thames St., 410-563-6600) has been the best Baltimore bar for soccer-watching. So it's no surprise that this Fells Point watering hole is one of your best choices for seeing the AC Milan-Chelsea game.
Tomorrow, Slainte will open at 9 a.m. with all kinds of drink and food specials. Draft Guinness, served in a 20-ounce glass, will be $4 all day (it's usually $6). Amstel Lights and Newcastle Brown Ales will be $3 each. Slainte is also offering an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet with corned beef and cabbage, bread pudding, stew and prime rib for $35 from noon to 4 p.m.
Representatives from DC United will be at the bar selling tickets for their games. And singer-songwriter Brendan Pelan will be on hand to perform some traditional Irish music after the match. Willy Dely, Slainte's music booking and marketing coordinator, is expecting between 200 and 300 people to show up.
"It's a really good atmosphere," he said. "I'm French, so I was surprised to see so many people in the U.S. interested in soccer."
Pickles Pub (520 Washington Blvd., 410-752-1784), traditionally a high-profile spot for baseball and football partying, is also the official pre-game destination for Chelsea fans, according to operating manager Tom Leonard.
The downtown pub is setting up an outside bar, and the stretch of Washington Boulevard right in front might be closed so revelers can have more room, Leonard said. Leonard expects that 400 to 800 Chelsea fans will show up at Pickles before the game. Stella Artois beers will be $2.50, and the bar is stocking up on other international beers for the event.
"It's going to be pretty crazy," Leonard said. "It should be a good event."
James Joyce Irish Pub and Restaurant (616 S. President St., 410-727-5107) has been known to charge a cover fee during some sporting and live music events. But for tomorrow's game, admission is free to the Harbor East pub.
Drafts of the light Italian brew Peroni, which are normally $5.50, will be available for $4 all day. From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., appetizers are half-price, and drafts, bottles and rail drinks will be $1 off.
At Captain Larry's (601 E. Fort Ave., 410-727-4799), $75 gets you a ticket to the game, as well as a buffet and happy hour specials all night. Usually frequented by neighborhood residents, the South Baltimore bar has been known to show soccer matches from time to time. Expect a full house there tomorrow.
Claddagh Pub (2918 O'Donnell St., 410-522-4220), has always been a big supporter of soccer, according to owner Michael Clarke. Clarke boasts that the O'Donnell Square bar is the only bar in the city to put soccer on its main TV all the time. That may or may not be true.
Either way, Claddagh has gotten behind the AC Milan-Chelsea game. The bar is sponsoring a sold-out bus trip to the stadium. And though Claddagh doesn't have any food or drink specials per se, Clarke said the pub is going to be packed with soccer fans tomorrow.
"Soccer's our first love," he said. "It's going to be magical down here."