Editor’s note:In Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona meet again Wednesday in the second installment of their dramatic rivalry in five days. Here’s how a U.S.-based viewing party unfolded.
QUEENS, N.Y. — April 16 marked the 240th Clásico match between Spain’s soccer titans, Real Madrid and Barcelona.
For those uninitiated into the passionate rivalries that burn in the world of soccer, this clash represents more than a game between two good teams; think Yankees-Red Sox with the weight of decades of political and ethnic strife, civil war and regional pride added.
Millions saw the action on the pitch from Saturday’s match, thanks to ESPN Deportes’ broadcast, and it was nothing short of exhilarating: Each team’s top players — Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi — scored; the coaches screamed; the fans sang and chanted. While the game ended in a 1 -1 draw, the scoring opportunities were numerous.
As the play unfolded on the screens in the bar, a flurry of activity also occurred behind the scenes. The game was ESPN Deportes’ “Super Bowl” for the year, and Deportes employees went all-out to make it feel like one.
Staff members from the Communications, Marketing, Sales and Production departments pulled together to throw a viewing party for the public and select VIPs at The Garden at StudioSquare in the heart of Queens.
“We wanted to hold this event because El Clásico is really our Super Bowl, not only for ESPN Deportes, but for Hispanics overall,” said Santa Brito, ESPN Deportes Senior Marketing Manager. “It’s our highest-rated sporting event for the year.”
When it came to deciding on a location for the party, there was no question in Brito’s mind on where it should be.
“Queens is the mecca for soccer fans, so we just felt that this was the right time and the right place to do this,” she said.
ESPN Deportes members arrived a 9 a.m. to prepare for the 4 p.m. kickoff. The group hung banners around the venue’s beer garden and technicians readied the JumboTron outside.
Fans decked out in the jerseys of their favorite players began to arrive hours before kickoff and reveled in the atmosphere, stationing themselves near one of the dozen flat screen televisions in the bar.
Despite some chillier than expected weather, the event began without a hitch. Then it rained on the ESPN Deportes team’s figurative parade.
The weather forced the party indoors and made the normally poised ESPN Deportes host Carolina Guillén use a few takes for her on-site report.
“When we decided to plan this event, we knew it was going to happen in April,” said Brito. “We knew that the weather might have been an issue. Even though it’s raining, even though it’s 45 degrees out, people still came. If you look at the bar, it’s totally packed. “
ESPN Deportes 1, Mother Nature 0.
The Wednesday meeting of Real Madrid-Barcelona re-airs on ESPN Deportes at 9 p.m. ET.