Talen Energy Stadium
View of the interior of Talen Energy Stadium, from the Sons of Ben supporters section, the River End in 2010
|Former names||PPL Park (2010–2015)|
|Address||1 Stadium Drive|
|Public transit||Chester Transportation Center|
|Field size||120 × 75 yards|
|Surface||Patriot Bermuda Grass|
|Broke ground||December 1, 2008|
|Opened||June 27, 2010|
|Construction cost||$120 million
($130 million in 2016 dollars)
|Project manager||ICON Venue Group|
|Structural engineer||Pennoni Associates Inc.|
|General contractor||T.N. Ward Company|
|Philadelphia Union (MLS) (2010–present)|
Talen Energy Stadium (formerly known as PPL Park) is an American soccer-specific stadium located in Chester, Pennsylvania and is home to the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. The project is the result of combined commitments of $30 million from Delaware County and $47 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Talen Energy is the stadium's naming rights sponsor.
The stadium is located on Chester's waterfront along the Delaware River, at the Commodore Barry Bridge's southwestern corner. Talen Energy Stadium 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 the stadium, 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 Talen Energy Stadium. Their first match at the stadium was played on June 27, 2010, when they defeated Seattle Sounders FC 3–1. Sébastien Le Toux scored the Union's first goal at the stadium on a penalty kick. However, Pat Noonan of Sounders FC scored the first goal in the venue's history.
Due to consistently high attendance and ticket sales, the Philadelphia Union have expressed interest in expanding the capacity of the stadium as early as 2014. The planned expansion would occur in three phases, initially to 20,000, then to 27,000, and finally to approximately 30,000.
Talen Energy Stadium 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 attended the 2011 tournament.
Talen Energy Stadium 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 match in which the visiting New Zealand Māori All Blacks won 29-19.
The first college football game played at Talen Energy Stadium 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.
The stadium hosted two quarterfinal matches in the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Championship. In 2013, the stadium hosted the Major League Lacrosse's Championship known as the Steinfeld Cup. In this game, the Chesapeake Bayhawks defeated the Charlotte Hounds 10-9 in front of 3,892 fans. On April 24 & 26, 2015, the 2015 ACC Lacrosse Championship was hosted at the facility. In 2015 the stadium hosted the NCCA Division I and Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship. Maryland beat North Carolina in the DI game while SUNY Cortland beat Trinity College of Hartford in the DIII game. In 2016, the stadium will again host the NCAA Division I and Division III Women's Lacrosse Championship, May 28 and May 29, 2016.
Major League Ultimate has hosted its last two annual championship games at Talon Energy Stadium. The first was on July 19, 2014 when the DC Current defeated the Vancouver Nighthawks 23-17. The stadium again hosted the championship on August 8, 2015 in which the Boston Whitecaps defeated the Seattle Rainmakers 31-17.
Drum & bugle corps
Other soccer uses
The United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, and the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, have played their annual men's soccer rivalry at Talen Energy Stadium. The 2012 meeting marked just the third time in the 75-year history of the soccer rivalry that the schools met at a neutral location and was 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 served as host again in 2013 for the restructured conference's tournament. The stadium also hosted an international friendly between Greece and Nigeria in 2014. The match was a scoreless draw.
The 2013 College Cup was held at Talen Energy Stadium; the tournament will return to the venue in 2016.
When the initial architectural drawings were revealed, the stadium 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 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. The exterior 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.
On November 30, 2015, Talen Energy assumed naming rights and energy supply of the stadium. Talen Energy spun off as an electricity producer from PPL which in turn concentrated on transmission and distribution aspects.
In September 2010, Mid-Atlantic Construction Magazine named the stadium the "Sports/Recreation Project of the Year." The company grants the award to premier construction projects in the Mid-Atlantic region. In February 2011, the Delaware County Planning Commission awarded the stadium the 2010 William H. Bates Memorial Award. Since 1980, the honor is presented annually to real-estate developers that improved a Delaware County property.
Talen Energy Stadium 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, the stadium 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) away.
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