View of the interior of PPL Park, from the Sons of Ben supporters section, the River End in 2010
|Location||1 Stadium Drive
Chester, PA 19013-1940
|Broke ground||1 December 2008|
|Opened||27 June 2010|
|Operator||Keystone Sports and Entertainment, LLC.|
|Construction cost||$120 million
($130 million in 2014 dollars)
|Project manager||ICON Venue Group|
|Structural engineer||Pennoni Associates Inc.|
|General contractor||T.N. Ward Company|
|Field dimensions||120 × 75 yards|
|Public transit access||Chester Transportation Center|
|Philadelphia Union (MLS) (2010–present)|
PPL Park is an American soccer-specific stadium located in Chester, Pennsylvania, that is home to the Philadelphia Union, a Major League Soccer club. The project is the result of combined commitments of $30 million from Delaware County and $47 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. PPL EnergyPlus, a subsidiary of PPL, is the stadium's sponsor company.
The stadium is located on Chester's waterfront along the Delaware River, at the Commodore Barry Bridge's southwestern corner. PPL Park was designed to be a catalyst for economic development on the waterfront, with additional plans calling for a riverwalk amidst other entertainment, retail, and residential projects. The stadium was constructed by T.N. Ward Company, which is based in Ardmore, Pennsylvania.
Major League Soccer (MLS) had been interested in entering the Philadelphia market for several years, with many promises of a team by Commissioner Don Garber, as evidenced by his statement, "It's not a matter of if but when Philadelphia gets a team." Initially, Major League Soccer was interested in a site in the borough of Bristol, Pennsylvania, about 23 miles (37 km) north of Center City, Philadelphia. Those plans never came to fruition. Later, Rowan University provided details for a soccer stadium near its campus in Glassboro, New Jersey. However, funding from the state of New Jersey fell through in 2006.
In late 2006, a group of investors led by Rob Buccini, co-founder of the Buccini/Pollin Group; Jay Sugarman, chief executive of iStar Financial; and James Nevels, a former chairman of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission, initiated the planning for a soccer-specific stadium in the city of Chester after the funding for the Rowan project failed to pass the New Jersey legislature. After many months of negotiations, Delaware County politicians announced their approval of funding for the stadium in October 2007. Delaware County owns the land and the stadium itself, while the team owns the naming rights based on their approval of a 30-year lease. The newly formed Delaware County Sports Authority pays the county's share of $30 million through taxes from the Harrah's Chester harness racing track and casino. An additional $80 million was donated by private investors.
On January 31, 2008, Governor Ed Rendell and Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, unveiled a combined soccer stadium and economic revitalization package for the city of Chester. $25 million was allocated to the construction of PPL Park, with an additional $7 million towards a two-phase project composed of 186 townhouses, 25 apartments, 335,000 square feet (31,100 m2) of office space, a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) convention center, more than 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of retail space, and a parking structure to house 1,350 cars. In phase two, another 200 apartments will be built, along with 100,000 square feet (9,300 m2) of office space and 22,000 square feet (2,000 m2) of retail space.
Construction delays led to the Philadelphia Union's decision to play their inaugural home game at Lincoln Financial Field instead of PPL Park. Their first match at the stadium was played on June 27, 2010, when they defeated Seattle Sounders FC by a score of 3–1. Sébastien Le Toux scored the Union's first goal at PPL Park on a penalty kick. However, Pat Noonan of Sounders FC scored the first goal in the venue's history.
PPL Park was the site of the 2012 MLS All Star match against the European champions Chelsea F.C. The largest attendance overall at PPL Park was on July 25, 2012, for the 2012 MLS All-Star Game when the MLS All-Stars hosted Chelsea FC in front of 19,236 fans. The game was a 3 - 2 victory for the MLS All-Stars.
Due to consistently high attendance and ticket sales, the Philadelphia Union has expressed interest in expanding the capacity of the stadium. The planned expansion would occur in three phases, initially to 20,000, then to 27,000, and finally to approximately 30,000. The planned first phase of expansion could start as early as 2014.
PPL Park has hosted the Collegiate Rugby Championship every June since 2011. The Collegiate Rugby Championship is the highest profile college rugby competition in the United States, and is broadcast live on NBC every year. Over 17,800 fans came out to PPL Park to watch the 2011 tournament.
PPL Park hosted its first rugby union international on November 9, 2013, when the Māori All Blacks squared off against the United States. A sold out crowd of 18,500 witnessed a hard-fought 19–29 loss to the visiting New Zealand Māori All Blacks.
The first college football game played at PPL Park was the Battle of the Blue on November 19, 2011, in which Delaware beat Villanova to earn the trophy for the first time.  These same two teams met again on November 23, 2013, with Villanova beating Delaware 35-34.
Other soccer uses
The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, announced that their annual men's soccer rivalry will be held in PPL Park for 2012 and 2013. The 2012 meeting marked the just the third time in the 75-year history of the soccer rivalry that the schools met at a netural location; and the first regular season neutral site meeting, with the previous two occurring in the NCAA tournament. Philadelphia is the traditional home of the classic football rivalry and is halfway between the two schools. 3,672 turned out for the first Philadelphia matchup.
After the effects of Hurricane Sandy, the 2012 Big East Men's Soccer Tournament was moved to PPL from Red Bull Arena. PPL will serve as host again in 2013 for the restructured conference's tournament.
When the initial architectural drawings were revealed, PPL Park was to have been an oval-shaped stadium with a cantilevered roof covering all seating areas – not unlike most European football grounds. After consulting with the nascent club's supporters, the Union's ownership group, Keystone Sports & Entertainment, re-designed a specific entrance of PPL Park for the Sons of Ben supporters group in recognition of their loyalty. This entrance leads into a 2,000-seat section reserved specifically for the group known as The River End. Additional features include thirty luxury suites, a full-service restaurant and club above the Chester End, a built-in concert stage in The River End (which has yet to be used), and cantilevered roofs running above the Main and Bridge Stands. Even with the inclusion of these features, approximately sixty percent of the venue's spectators will be able to view the Commodore Barry Bridge and the Delaware River from their seats. PPL Park's façade is made up of brick and natural stone, a continuity of traditional Philadelphia architecture.
On February 25, 2010, the Philadelphia Union announced that the Allentown, Pennsylvania-based PPL Corporation purchased the naming rights to its home venue for $20 million over 11 years. As part of the deal, PPL EnergyPlus provides the stadium with sustainable energy derived from other sources in Pennsylvania.
In September 2010, Mid-Atlantic Construction Magazine named PPL Park the "Sports/Recreation Project of the Year." The company grants the award to premier construction projects in the Mid-Atlantic region.
On February 25, 2011, the Delaware County Planning Commission awarded PPL Park the 2010 William H. Bates Memorial Award. Since 1980, the honor is presented annually to real-estate developers that improved a Delaware County property.
PPL Park features many of the foods commonly sold at American sports venues, and also offers traditional Philadelphia food items such cheesesteaks, hoagies, and soft pretzels (shaped like the Union's primary logo). Several foods are provided by local companies such as Turkey Hill, Herr's Snacks and Seasons Pizza, while beers from local breweries such as Victory and Dogfish Head are also available.
Like the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, PPL Park is located near Interstate 95. It is approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) from the Chester Transportation Center SEPTA station, where shuttle service is provided from four hours prior to kickoff and from full-time until the park is empty. The Philadelphia International Airport is 5 miles (8.0 km) from PPL Park.
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|Host of the College Cup