Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
Philly makes it sweet 16, eventually
by Ridge Mahoney, February 29th, 2008 6:45AM

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, Christopher and 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
Video Pick: Neymar delights in charity game     
Neymar started his holiday break by playing in a Sao Paulo "Ball Hunger Only" charity game ...
Clyde Simms needs second kidney transplant    
Just days after receiving a kidney transplant, former U.S. international Clyde Simms, who was forced to ...
What They're Saying: Thierry Henry    
"Now teams have their own stadiums. You see the fans wearing the jerseys of their teams. ...
Youth Report: U.S. U-20s sweep, U-18s split    
The U.S. under-20 national team wrapped up its trip to San Pedro Sula with a second ...
ODP Boys Winter Interregional all-stars named    
All-Star teams were named for the 2014 U.S. Youth Soccer ODP Boys Winter Interregional that wrapped ...
Tottenham edges New England prep stars for IMG Cup title    
Tottenham's U-18s won the Super Group in the fifth annual IMG Cup with a 1-0 win ...
Houston switches USL PRO partners for 2015 season    
The Houston Dynamo will team up with the Charleston Battery as its USL PRO affiliate in ...
Bradenton and Austin to host MLS preseason events    
Eight clubs will take part in the inaugural IMG Suncoast Pro Classic Feb. 16-28 at IMG ...
TV Report: EPL Breakaway set for New Year's Day    
NBCSN will present its first-ever Premier League Breakaway --  a special two-hour show featuring RedZone-like live ...
MLS Trade Central: Monday's deals    
The Chicago Fire signed Indiana University defender Patrick Doody as the club's sixth Homegrown Player. In ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives