In the heart of BoDo at 401 S. Eighth Street, every clothing rack is full of Basque Soccer Friendly
merchandise. Soccer fans can find t-shirts, jerseys, training tops, polos and scarves toting the Basque Soccer Friendly logo, as well as merchandise and flags from Athletic Club de Bilbao
and Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
(as soon as it all gets through U.S. customs, early next week).
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The store opened on May 29 in anticipation for the Basque Soccer Friendly match
between Athletic Club de Bilbao, from the Spanish providence of Biscay, and Club Tijuana from Baja California—tentatively set for July 29 at Albertsons Stadium. Along with merchandise, the storefront also features a large flatscreen television and a couple beige couches where fans can watch soccer matches leading up to the game.
"I think the Athletic Club de Bilbao merch will sell better," said Argia Beristain
with a snicker. She's one of the main organizers of the event. "It's hard to get in the U.S. I looked online last night and I couldn't find it for sale anywhere else in the country. We'll be the only place to sell it."
Originally, Beristain was hoping to get a storefront in the Basque Block, but nothing was available, so the Capital City Development Corporation—a sponsor of the event—arranged for Beristain to set up the small shop in BoDo. At first, she considered doing pop-up locations to sell the merchandise, but decided to skip the hassle and make the brick and mortar shop her new home-away-from-home.
On Saturday, May 30, the new store will be one of a handful of places hosting a viewing party for Copa del Rey. The soccer match between Athletic Club de Bilbao and FC Barcelona will determine the exact date
of the Basque Soccer Friendly match in Boise later this summer. If Athletic Club de Bilbao wins, the soccer match will stay on Wednesday, July 29, as is the plan now. If the team loses, the Boise game will most likely have to reschedule the Basque Soccer Friendly to Saturday, July 18 or Sunday, July 19.
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That's something Beristain really doesn't want to see happen. She said many people from out of town have already bought their plane tickets and reserved hotels for the match on July 29, which coincides with this year's Jaialdi festival. She added that hardcore soccer fans have already made hotel reservations for the weekend of July 18 as well, just to be safe.
If the match has to move, logistics become a bit of a nightmare for Beristain, because the sod instillation company that needs to pull the sod being grown at the Cloverdale Nursery to cover the blue turf of the Albertson Stadium has another game it's preparing sod for on the weekend of July 18.
"That means they'll have to install sod elsewhere, then come here, install the sod here, then go back to the other city to take out the sod, then come back here to remove our sod as well," she said.
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Another downside: the sod was planned to be transplanted into Ann Morrison Park, where the soccer fields need to be redone anyway. But Beristain said the field in the park might not be ready for the new sod by then, so that plan might fall through.
If the date of the game does change, Beristain said tickets already purchased will still be valid for the new date.
"But I'd love to say that Athletic Club de Bilbao beat the No. 1 team in the world—FC Barcelona, and they're next game is in Boise, Idaho," she said. "There are so many reasons why I want them to win."
Viewing parties of the match tomorrow will also take place at the Basque Center, Leku Ona and Parilla Grill, where Payette Brewing's Basque Soccer Lager will be on tap.
The new shop downtown will be open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. through mid-August.