Sun, 11 Jun 2000

Jakarta gears up for Euro 2000

Soccer fans everywhere are digging in for the long haul of Euro 2000. Businesses in Jakarta and other major cities in the country are also sizing up opportunities to score rich profits during four weeks promising excitement, shattered dreams and sleepless nights.

JAKARTA (JP): Millions set up camp in front of their television sets at 11:45 p.m. Jakarta time on Saturday.

After the opening ceremony and the whistle blew for the match between host Belgium and Sweden, Euro 2000 mania officially took hold.

The winnings will not only be on the field. Businesses know that soccer, arguably the world's most popular sport, is a potential gold mine.

The world's attention will be focused on the Netherlands and Belgium, the venues for the event, from June 10 to July 2, with television broadcasts bringing the games into living rooms from London to Lahore.

Major private TV stations RCTI and SCTV will relay the 31 hottest matches to the far corners of the archipelago. Print media are preparing to fill their pages with news, photos and scores.

RCTI sports producer Irwan Hendarmin said the TV stations shared the US$300,000 TV rights to air all the matches. The rights and high production costs have been covered by sponsors, but Irwan declined to mention the figure.

Off-air activities are being organized by RCTI in Surabaya, Malang and Bandung in the launching of the Euro 2000 mania program. It has also issued a guidebook for the event.

Kompas morning daily, Bola and Media GO sports tabloids have issued their own guides, with team and player profiles, plus predictions of results.

Cafes and hotels are putting on special events in the hope of bringing in soccer-loving patrons.

Le Meridien in Central Jakarta is prepared to set out TV tray dinners for guests to munch on during the games; the Corner Kick, for instance, consists of fish fingers, french fries and beer (Rp 55,000). A giant screen TV will grace Le Rendevouz bar during the semifinals and the final.

Other hotels are also giving their fans an eyeful of the action.

Hotel Mulia will have a giant screen TV in De Cafe coffee shop from June 11, and the Hotel Borobudur from June 12. Viewers can quench their thirst with the buy-one-get-one-free promotion at the latter hotel.

Nonton bareng (watching the games together) is a relatively new phenomenon here.

Public relations officer of Champions Sports Bar Restaurant Yuki Hidayat said the Kemang, South Jakarta bar debuted the program for the 1996 Euro Cup, and continued it for the 1998 World Cup.

"The enthusiasm was extraordinary, especially in 1998. Indonesia was still in chaos after the May riots, but the number of visitors was not influenced by the incident. About 1,000 visitors came every night and it was really crowded. Even when we warned them that we were already full, they didn't care."

Champion's is offering a special late happy hour from 1 a.m. to 3 a.m. with a 30 percent discount on food and beverages.

It also has score guessing games, a Euro pool game and table soccer. There will be best supporter and best dressed contests.

Project P comedy group and master of ceremonies Edwin and Jody will entertain at the opening ceremony.

"People may want to watch the games at home, but there may be some who prefer to come here, perhaps because they are looking for a more entertaining atmosphere to keep them awake," Yuki said. The bar will close at 5 a.m.

The program and entertainment manager of Newscafe in Kemang, South Jakarta, Rizal Ahmad, said the cafe was cooperating with Bola to attract patrons to watch the matches on a giant screen, which he claimed was the biggest in town.

"We don't want to be left behind in the Euro 2000 fiesta."

Coupons from the Friday edition of Bola entitle the bearer to a free soft drink.

"We'll provide commentators for every match. One of them is actor Rano Karno (star of Si Doel TV series). We don't want to have a serious atmosphere here."

The cafe, which can accommodate 300, is also offering door prizes and quizzes.

Rizal said the cafe would offer a light meal menu because many matches started at 11 p.m. He promised prices during the matches would be lower than usual.

"We don't put a minimum limit on their purchases. Everybody should feel free to watch the games here all night long, even if they only buy one glass of Coke. They will also be entertained by local music groups."

Cafe Lamborghini and Front Row Sports Grill in Taman Ria Senayan, Central Jakarta, have become known for holding special events in tandem with sports extravaganzas.

Cafe Lamborghini host receptionist Dewi Mayasari said nonton bareng was a fixture at the cafe, usually for auto racing.

"Our regular performer Papi band will entertain our guests during the opening and closing ceremonies of Euro 2000. Our cafe is open until dawn to serve soccer fans."

The cafe, which can accommodate 200 sitting guests and an additional 100 standing guests, has two cover charges: Rp 10,000, including a soft drink, and Rp 20,000 inclusive of a draught beer. Group reservations are recommended.

Front Row Sports Grill associate general manager Bobby Tambayong said the restaurant would offer a special late night menu because some matches were scheduled to end about 4 a.m.

"We are offering special drinks with unique names, like Orange Buck which has colors similar to the Dutch flag, Balkan Lemonade which tastes like Balkan liquor with extra vodka, and the Italian Stallion." The special drink list also includes nonalcoholic beverages.

Front Row -- which staged a similar program for the 1998 World Cup -- will organize quizzes with prizes of T-shirts and caps.

There is a catch. Front Row will require customers to spend a minimum of Rp 35,000 during the first round of Euro 2000, Rp 50,000 in the quarterfinals and Rp 75,000 during the final.

"We want to select our guests through this restriction. We want them to come here to eat, drink and watch, and not only do the latter," said Bobby. (ivy/yan/sim)