The grand entry of Cine Star Cinema into the large screen soccer business in Nyamirambo was bound to stir up excitement among soccer fans in Kigali and provoke competition especially because it is located near another popular soccer joint, Cine Elmay.
Going by last Saturday’s titanic clash between English premiership clubs Manchester United and Arsenal, both joints have perhaps passed the initial litmus test.
The Cine Elmay owners, (formerly bonafide), home of the premiership in Nyamirambo with its improvised theater environment and large screen, must have watched with jitters as its new rival complete with car parking, popcorn, air conditioning and a beautiful décor was shaping up.
Even with its hot temperatures during highly billed matches, the older joint had long established its place if not for the free running commentary from local wannabe football fans that took place outside after every match, just for the hype.
But Cine Star has shaped up into a real proposition. With its theater-cum cinema halls, huge loud speaker system imitating the typical stadium atmosphere, spotless larger than life pictures, plus the small conveniences of life like drinks and comfy chairs, the soccer fan gets back every cent of worth of their money.
The additional normal and VIP classification also seeks to offer different experiences for different crowds, from the noisy, mad fanatic to the calm personality who seeks perfect entertainment in home-like environment. No wonder the tickets are a little pricier.
However, the battle of show places might just instead increase the profile of Nyamirambo as the two places curve their different niches and instead of competing for soccer fans, instead will attract patrons from other sides of the city.
And as the big English premiership night showed, both entertainment joints had a full house and as a bonus, after the match in which the defending champions narrowly piped the gunners, nevertheless with a good dose of luck in their favor, the crowds poured into the streets below.
A carnival atmosphere of post-match commentary ensured. Jubilant supporters argued with their subdued foes while the crazier fans shouted on top of their voices, hooted their cars, blew their trumpets and even did some daredevil pranks with their cars.
Either way, residents of Nyamirambo who care less about men kicking a piece of leather and going crazy about it, still get treated to free entertainment.
Which makes it is a win-win situation!