Grand Rapids lounge getting praise for soccer fan atmosphere

Posted at 9:02 PM, Nov 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-20 12:12:43-05

Soccer fans pile into the SpeakEZ lounge to watch the World Cup match between USA and Germany (Photo: June 26, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich – It’s a contest that has soccer fans voting on the best Premiere League bar in America, and a Grand Rapids business is in the running.

“The more the guys started talking about soccer in West Michigan, we saw there’s a real passion for it here,” said Eric Albertson, owner of SpeakEZ Lounge.  “A lot of them started talking about forming a football club.  That all started right here at SpeakEZ because a bunch of people loved the beautiful game.”

It’s NBC Sports that’s behind the contest.  The network is putting together a judging panel to help finalize a winner, which would receive a cash prize up to $50,000 to help improve the viewing experience of matches for fans.

“Right now SpeakEZ is running in third place in the U.S.  You know where going up against Chicago, New York, Columbus and a lot of the big boys,” said Albertson.

WATCH:  Grand Rapids Gets World Cup Fever

“The great thing is that there’s still a lot of camaraderie and there’s still a lot of good banter back and forth,” said Albertson.  “What we found here are like-minded people who come down to enjoy the beautiful game, so there’s not a lot of trash talk, but some good-natured ribbing with a big wink.  It’s really much more of a family feeling down here.”

It’s a big opportunity for the lounge, with the owner also getting a party thrown by NBC Sports, along with a potential national commercial spot promoting their game watching experience.

“For all those friends and fans and good guests at SpeakEZ that came to the World Cup, that come to the Premier League, that are part of the Grand Rapids Football Club, for them to promote me the way they have on the Best Premier League Bar contest page, it’s humbling, humbling,” said Albertson.

If you’re interested in learning more about the contest, or how to vote, click here.