Toronto

Ontario bar hours extended for World Cup

The Ontario government is allowing the rest of the province to follow Toronto's lead in extending legal drinking hours in bars and restaurants during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Alcohol sales to begin at 10 a.m.

The Ontario government is allowing the rest of the province to follow Toronto's lead in extending legal drinking hours in bars and restaurants during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The move means that patrons in Ontario's 17,000 bars and restaurants will be able to order an alcoholic drink as of 10 a.m. rather than the usual 11 a.m.

"This is great news for Ontario's World Cup fans," said Consumer Services Minister Sophia Aggelonitis, who will be rooting for Greece to take the trophy. 

"Hockey may be Canada's national sport, but soccer's popularity is steadily growing in Ontario, and this special approval will allow people to celebrate the excitement of the World Cup."

The provincial government also said the extra hour of alcohol sales would be an economic boost for businesses.

Cities and towns can opt out if they wish by contacting the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

6-hour time difference means early games

There is a six-hour time difference between Ontario and South Africa, where the tournament is being held, meaning some games will begin as early as 7:30 a.m. ET.

Toronto city council first passed a motion affecting city bars on May 12 to accommodate soccer fans.

"I feel ecstatic. Let's play ball," said Toronto deputy mayor Joe Pantalone when he heard the news.

"I'm not even mayor, and I'm already leading [the] province," quipped Pantalone, who's running for the job of Toronto mayor.

Pantalone said people from across the province, including Ottawa, Windsor, Thunder Bay and Kitchener "were clamouring for this," and last week, he spoke to a councillor in Hamilton about the issue.

Bars hope to cash in on extra hour

The kitchen manager at the Black Bull pub in Burlington said it will "definitely help business" but wasn't sure how much since people will come in to watch the games anyways.

"An hour difference probably isn't going to make a huge difference, but for some people, it will make a difference," said John Vlasics, 44.

Vlasics, who hopes the United States does well during the World Cup, figures there will be more of an impact on the weekends than during the week.

Soccer is a big draw over at the Moose and Firkin in Woodbridge.

Manager Sherri Hurlburd, 44, said there has been a lot of confusion among her customers since Toronto passed its bylaw.

"There was a lot of talk about it, and people basically assumed because the City of Toronto had said it was OK, it had been passed [everywhere]," she said.

Hurlburd said her bar was ready to open early whether the drinking time was changed or not and that customers weren't too worried about having to wait an hour for a drink.

"A lot of people have said, 'Well, what's the big deal if we sit here at 10 and once 11 hits, we can have a drink?"'

Now, customers have the choice to drink earlier if they want, she said.

The 2010 FIFA World Cup runs from June 11 to July 11, with every game broadcast on CBC and available online at http://www.cbc.ca/sports/soccer/fifaworldcup/.

With files from the Canadian Press

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