Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
Philly makes it sweet 16, eventually
by Ridge Mahoney, February 29th, 2008 6:45AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

MOST READ

MOST COMMENTED

Another major market, another sports-mad city, another enticing stadium proposal, and another well-heeled ownership group add up to another MLS expansion team. And yet another coup, at least on paper.

The 14th and 15th teams haven't played a game yet, but already MLS has announced team No. 16 will be Philadelphia. The entry, to begin play in 2010, marks a return of pro soccer to Philadelphia 28 years after the NASL Fury followed the Atoms and NPSL Spartans into oblivion.

"Philadelphia brings in one of the most passionate sports markets in the country and provides a natural rivalry with the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United," said MLS commissioner Don Garber, who for the past few years has been lobbying for the city's inclusion.

Vied in a head-to-head battle with St. Louis for the past year or so, Philly pulled away a month ago when the state legislature approved its share of a funding formula for an extensive redevelopment project in Chester, Pa. Already in place was a strong ownership group, which is comprised of several newcomers to the pro soccer scene and one familiar name: iStar Financial CEO Jay Sugarman, Swarthmore Group Chairman James Nevels, Philadelphia attorney William Doran, Christopherand Robert Buccini, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group, and former MetroStars general manager Nick Sakiewicz.

"And this ownership group is passionately committed to doing things in a major-league way," said Sakiewicz, the group's CEO and operating partner. "It will be the people's team, with a world-class stadium." Sakiewicz labored for years on the New Jersey stadium development that eventually became Red Bull Park in Harrison and left AEG last year to work on the Philadelphia project.

The lead investor is Sugarman, the founder, chairman and CEO of iStar Financial, an investment firm whose primary operations are services are tailored to high-end private and corporate real-estate ventures. According to the MLS statement announcing the deal, iStar Financial's investment portfolio exceeds $20 billion.

"Major League Soccer is truly a league with the wind behind its sail," said Sugarman. "We're going to build a first-class organization on and off the field and we will create a development that makes the community proud."

The Buccini/Pollin Group, Inc. is a real estate acquisition, development and management firm with offices in several Eastern Seaboard cities, including Philadelphia. The Swarthmore Group, an investment firm, is based in nearby West Chester.

A 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in Chester, 13 miles from downtown Philadelphia and accessible by public transit and Interstate 95, is the centerpiece of a $500 million waterfront development project along the Delaware River. Philadelphia and the adjacent Delaware Valley area is the nation's fourth largest population center with an estimated 6.5 million people and is also the fourth-largest TV market with nearly 3 million households.

The Pennsylvania state legislature approved $47 million in state funds for the redevelopment project, including $25 million toward the construction of the stadium, the cost of which has been estimated at $115 million. Delaware County and the city of Chester have committed $30 million for the project and the Delaware River Port Authority has pledged $10 million. Sugarman and his partners will be responsible for funding the costs of stadium construction beyond the public monies earmarked.

The team has no nickname, no jerseys, and no team colors. It does, however, have the Sons of Ben, a fan club with more than 1,000 members who, until Thursday, were without a home team to support.

Already, Philly is well ahead of at least a few MLS teams.

 



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Crowd Count: 105,826 fans show up at Big House    
Real Madrid and Chelsea drew 105,826 fans for their International Champions Cup at Michigan Stadium in ...
What They're Saying: Bruce Arena    
"I personally think after all the success he's had there, and what he's brought to that ...
Video Pick: Julian Green hits a hat trick    
Julian Green, the 21-year-old Germany-raised U.S. national team attacker, scored a hat trick for Bayern Munich ...
U.S. U-20 men to face Cosmos and Red Bulls II    
Coach Tab Ramos has called in a 20-player squad for a July 30-Aug. 8 U.S. U-20 ...
U.S. Abroad: Guzan leaves Villa for Middlesbrough    
Brad Guzan will remain the English Premier League, but he might not start, putting him in ...
MLS Moves: Fire ships Igboananike to D.C.    
In a move that signals a continued roster purge that began with the arrival of new ...
What They're Saying: Chuba Akpom    
"I was playing against players I played with on FIFA when I was younger  -- [Didier] ...
MLS All-Star Game: Red rules the day    
The team that calls Avaya Stadium home usually wears blue, but red turned out to be ...
MLS Expansion: Atlanta's Villalba and Jones off on loan    
MLS expansion team Atlanta United FC has sent its two big signings on loan until it ...
Crowd Count: ICC match draws 86,641 fans in Columbus    
The International Champions Cup match between Paris St. Germain and Real Madrid at Ohio Stadium in ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives