Soccer Business Bits: Hello Philly!

phillyWe promised a post on soccer gambling, but with the big announcement in the City of Brotherly Love, we’ll put gambling to the side for now.  At City Hall, the Philadelphia Union were officially announced in front of more than 500 “Sons of Ben” and other supporters.  With the League Commissioner and City Mayor in attendance, the Blue and Gold colors and sharp new logo of the team were also unveiled. The team is set to start play in 2010.

As we have discussed, the Union will play in a brand new 18,500 seat stadium in Chester, PA.  Importantly, the new stadium will be served by both highways and SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority).  With the dissapointing attendance at some of the suburban stadiums (Chicago and Dallas) and recent success of urban stadiums (Seattle and Toronto), the accessibility of the new stadium in Chester to Philly will be important.

Season ticket sales in Philly have lagged behind those in other expansion cities, but with 11 months until First Kick, plenty of time remains to sell tickets.  Interestingly, the Union have created a supporters section where you can only get tickets if you are a member of a supporters group.  According to reports, the Sons of Ben have more than 5,000 members already. All ticket prices are here.

The success of Philadelphia is important for MLS.  It creates a link between the East Coast cities in the League while bringing one of the larges TV markets into the fold.  Philly fans are passionate; it remains to be seen whether they are passionate about soccer.  The City of Brotherly Love will get a taste of soccer this summer when the CONCACAF Gold Cup rolls in for a double header at Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Eagles).  These games may be an important bellewether for the popularity of soccer in town.