SAN FRANCISCO--With probably a billion fellow fans watching the World Cup final around the globe, soccer nuts in this city got to take it in on a giant LED screen in a public park.
Unlike similar scenes in other cities, the benefactor who enabled this great afternoon for at least 8,000 people in San Francisco's Dolores Park who came and watched Italy defeat France on penalty kicks was making it happen mostly on his own.
Jens-Peter Jungclaussen, who was born in Germany, where the World Cup was being held, said he thought San Franciscans deserved to share in the thrill of being part of huge soccer-mad crowds for the final, much as many Germans had during the monthlong tournament.
"I thought the German community should provide a free screen here," said Junglaussen, a teacher who also runs a party bus company and who takes inner-city kids on bus tours, "because San Francisco is the most European city. In Germany, there are 200 screens (for the World Cup), and I found out nothing was happening here. So I did it myself."
Jungclaussen said he paid for the rental of the giant, 9-foot by 13-foot LED screen--which reportedly is visible even in direct sunlight from up to 300 feet--by putting at least $7,000 in costs on his girlfriend's credit card.
He said he had gotten some money from the local German consulate, and made up some of the difference by selling food at the event, and from donations from the crowd.
"I might have lost money by it," he said, "but I think it was worthwhile because it turned out amazing."
It almost didn't, however. The video crew was having problems with the satellite signal, and didn't get the game broadcast until about 20 seconds after it began, at which time a huge cheer went up from the previously anxious crowd.
Until that moment, many people were nervously talking into their cell phones, trying to source up alternative plans.
"People were like, 'What? They're on the (field)? They're singing the national anthem?" said Aaron Muszalski, a fan who came to Dolores Park to watch the match. "There were these waves of distress spreading from little cell phone nodes" throughout the park.