Philadelphia Franchise a Reality

Major League Soccer has awarded its 16th franchise to the city of Philadelphia, ending months of competition between the City of Brotherly Love, St. Louis, and - most recently - Miami for the increasingly coveted spot in the league. The news was made official at a press conference on Thursday with key members who made the deal possible, including the 1,000-member-strong supporters club Sons of Ben.

"It took us 12 years to bring the world's most popular sport to the City of Brotherly Love," said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. "Today I am proud to officially announce that in 2010, Philadelphia will be joining Major League Soccer as the league's 16th team."

The new club will play their home games in a brand-new waterfront stadium to be built in the Philly suburb of Chester, following the model of other cities that have chosen to build soccer-specific stadiums in suburbs within shouting distance of their major metropolitan areas. The plan is for a 20,000-seat arena that will cost roughly $115 million, the centerpiece of a broader $500 million development project.

"We're going to build a team, a stadium, and we're going to lift some trophies along the way, and have some fun, so get ready," said Nick Sakiewicz, chief executive officer of the triumphant ownership group. "The Philadelphia area wanted soccer, and today they got soccer."

Though the team won't play their first game for another two years, season ticket deposits are currently being accepted at www.MLSPhilly2010.com, as well as at (877) MLS-2010.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The wait is finally over Philadelphia, Major League Soccer is coming to your city.

MLS has chosen Philadelphia to become the league's 16th franchise, sources told SBI on Wednesday night. The announcement is set for next Thursday.

Philadelphia beat out St. Louis for the right to join the league, helped in no small part by the state of Pennsylvania's decision to approve $47 million in state funding for a proposed $115 million stadium in Chester, Pa.

The Philadelphia team is slated to begin play in 2010.

So why Philadelphia instead of St. Louis? The St. Louis expansion drive slowed in recent months as efforts to attract big-money investors proved difficult while Philly's push for public stadium funding provided the final boost for the efforts.

Don't fret St. Louis, there is always being No. 17. The city's chances for eventually joining MLS look good and a city with as much soccer history and love for the sport as St. Louis will surely make its way into the league sooner rather than later.

As most SBI readers know, I have long considered Philadelphia as the ideal candidate for expansion. Not only because of the area's soccer history, but also for the rivalries that will be instantly created with D.C. United and the Red Bulls. The fact that fans of two established MLS teams will be able to drive two hours to an opposing team's stadium is invaluable for cultivating the sort of fan connection that will help MLS grow.