What We're Reading

What Will Soccer Bring To Chester, Pa.?

Passing the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, on the way to Monday's groundbreaking ceremony for a new soccer stadium in Chester, Pa., Karen Heller mused upon the fact that the stadium had been built "on so much promise and public financing," but is "a place where most fans can't score an Eagles ticket despite its being built with $171 million of our money."

Major League Soccer shares something in common with football, she writes -- "the ability to get citizens to underwrite its wishes with little opposition." The soccer stadium will be built with $77 million of public funding at cost of $4,132.23 a seat. She calls this "public welfare for rich people."

Though she professes to like soccer, she wonders "why should we be underwriting the game, and in this economy?" Job creation? Community revitalization? Villanova professor Rick Eckstein, co-author of "Public Dollars, Private Financing," tells her that "those 'public impact statements' are fantasy documents. Look at South Philadelphia. If any place was the poster child for all sports stuff, it's South Philadelphia. With all those sports arenas, the place should be teeming with economic development. What do you have? A Holiday Inn."

Tina Johnson, president of Chester's Community Grocery Coop, said: "For Chester, I don't see this as a win. I don't see where the jobs are going to happen." Chester resident Joan Broadfield called it "a project owned by people in Philly, for people in Philly. There's a whole lot more people could do for Chester than a soccer stadium."

"At the groundbreaking, the tent swelled with good intentions" for Chester, observes Heller. But when the stadium's built, "fans will be able to get off the bridge, the Blue Route, or I-95 without ever having to spend a minute or a dime in the rest of Chester."



Read the whole story at Philly.com »

Next story loading loading..

Discover Our Publications