NBC Fan Festival brings Premier League to Fenway

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NBC Fan Festival brings Premier League to Fenway

Premier League fans mill about Fenway at NBC Sports' Premier League Fan Festival.

Premier League fans mill about Fenway at NBC Sports' Premier League Fan Festival.

Jacob Horowitz

Premier League fans mill about Fenway at NBC Sports' Premier League Fan Festival.

Jacob Horowitz

Jacob Horowitz

Premier League fans mill about Fenway at NBC Sports' Premier League Fan Festival.

Jacob Horowitz, news correspondent

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The Fenway-area sports bar Cask ‘N Flagon was filled with a mass of colorful jerseys and scarves, rising and falling with celebration and despair after each goal. Tidal chants came and went as momentum shifted from team to team. All the while, the stoic Premier League trophy glistened against the back wall, watching over its devout followers, each praying to see their club’s leaders hoist it one day.

Boston’s first Premier League Fan Festival saw thousands of soccer fans come out and support their clubs despite being separated from the fields of play by more than 3,000 miles. Hosted by NBC Sports, the sole owners of Premier League broadcast rights in the United States, the event was intended to bring fans together and simulate the matchday environment of a traditional English pub.

“The fans here don’t get to touch and be shoulder to shoulder,” said Dan Palla, NBC Sports’ director of consumer engagement. “We want to see and hear our fans more. For me, that’s the most rewarding bit. Not just to see the plan come together but to see the interaction between our talent, who everyone sees day to day on their televisions, [and] to get a chance to be there [and see] the energy of the crowd [and] the goal reactions that we all love.”

In addition to the trophy making the trip across the pond, various special guests were in attendance, including WWE wrestler and Liverpool superfan Sheamus, Manchester City legend Shaun Wright-Phillips and the entire broadcast crew of “Premier League Mornings Live,” NBC Sports’ English soccer morning show.

“Premier League Mornings Live” studio analysts Robbie Mustoe and Kyle Martino dressed up as Watford mascot Harry the Hornet and Wolves mascot Wolfie the Wolf, respectively, and challenged each other to a dance-off much to the enjoyment of the Saturday morning fans.

“The cheering and the banter and the funny comments and the funny people,” Mustoe said before the event. “That’s what I enjoy about [the Fan Festivals]. Twenty, 30, 40, 50 guys in the same colors singing their songs against another team that’s [on] the other side of the bar. That’s it — the fans.”

NBC studio host Rebecca Lowe described similar excitement in seeing the American fanbase.

“I just love seeing and reminding myself how much American soccer fans love this game just as much as we do despite there still being a perception, certainly in parts of Europe, that it’s not that big here,” Lowe said. “Because it is, it’s massive, and all you have to do is come down to a fan fest and you’ll see that.”

The thousands of fans that came out certainly proved Lowe’s point and were treated to a true festival. From the Premier League-themed air-brush tattoos and pancake art to a Nike passing and control challenge to Xbox Ones with FIFA 19, there was plenty to do if the fans ever tired of watching soccer. Any soccer fan would be hard-pressed to walk away unfulfilled.

This was the third fan festival of the Premier League season. The first two were held in New York City in December and Washington, D.C. a few months ago. A fourth festival has yet to be announced, but the Premier League USA has said on its Instagram account that it will not occur until next season.