Sons of Ben (MLS supporters association)
|Sons of Ben|
|Motto||Ad Finem Fidelis
(Latin: "Faithful to the end")
|Membership||2,750 paid (as of Dec 2011)|
The Sons of Ben (SoBs) is an independent supporters group for Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. The group was created in January 2007 by soccer fans from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and its greater metropolitan area, using such existing Major League Soccer fan clubs as the Screaming Eagles, La Barra Brava and Section 8 Chicago as models. The name of the club alludes to Benjamin Franklin, who was one of the most well-known Founding Fathers of the United States and a particularly iconic figure of Philadelphia.
Bryan James, Andrew Dillon, and David Flagler founded the Sons of Ben supporters club on January 17, 2007, the 301st anniversary of Benjamin Franklin's birthday. Philadelphia soccer fan Ethan Gomberg suggested the name. The Sons of Ben are the first Philadelphia Union supporters club, and use the Philadelphia civic colors of light blue and yellow as opposed to the darker shades officially used by the team.
The Sons of Ben began during a flurry of rumors regarding Major League Soccer's negotiations with investors regarding a potential team in the Philadelphia region. As of 2009, the group has more than 4,500 members and ran a season ticket drive in 2007, attracting 2,800 requests. Both state and county governments have agreed to partially fund the Rivertown project along the banks of the Delaware River in Chester, Pennsylvania. This mixed-use development will be anchored by the 18,500-seat PPL Park, located at the base of the Commodore Barry Bridge. On February 28, 2008, Philadelphia was confirmed to be the league's 16th team, meaning that their initial goal has been accomplished. The Sons of Ben refocused their efforts on the most important mission of any supporters club: supporting the local team. Union began play in 2010.
At the "Meet the Owners" event held two days before the official expansion press conference in Chester, the Sons of Ben wore nametags with handwritten numbers intended to read "2010." The number was mistakenly interpreted as "ZOLO" by team ownership group member, Nick Sakiewicz. This led to Philadelphia Union being referred to as the "Zolos" in a series of inside jokes by the group.
The Sons of Ben logo, designed by co-founder Andrew Dillon, incorporates various components alluding to Philadelphia's history and the achievements of Benjamin Franklin. The oar and the scythe represent the city's nautical and agricultural roots. Franklin invented bifocals, while the key, lightning bolts and lozenge-shaped kite symbolize his exploration into the nature of electricity. The crack in Franklin's skull resembles that of the historic Liberty Bell.
Associated supporters groups
The Sons of Ben organization was created to help bring a Major League Soccer team to Philadelphia. Some of the founding members were originally supporters of D.C. United. Bryan James in particular was very active in the D.C. supporters culture.
In addition, a number of new groups independent of the Sons of Ben have developed, primarily out of dissatisfaction for how the Sons of Ben operate. Some of these new supporter's groups include the Bearfight Brigade, The IllegitimateS (Sec 133), The Bridge Crew (Sec. 120-121), The Norris Street Hooligan, and the Corner Creeps (Sec. 134).
December 2007 marked the Sons of Ben's first philanthropic effort, Help Kick Hunger. Help Kick Hunger is a canned food and donation drive aimed to benefit the Bernardine Center in Chester, which opened as an Emergency Food Cupboard. The Center designed the model Super Cupboard program in 1987. This program seeks to break the cycle of poverty and dependence for low-income mothers by providing weekly sessions that include nutrition education and life skills workshops. The Super Cupboard model has been copied extensively throughout Pennsylvania. Other philanthropic efforts include the 4Q07 drive that raised $1,500 and 561 pounds (254 kg) of food for the Bernardine Center, the 1Q08 campaign that raised $1,500 worth of Easter hams and an additional $1,000, and the 4Q08 Help Kick Hunger drive that raised $2,501 and 603 pounds (274 kg) of food. Most recently, the Sons of Ben were able to raise $10,000 through their Help Kick Hunger campaign which was donated to the Bernardine Center at the end of 2010  which was more than their previous three efforts combined. The group has grown it's philanthropic efforts since the founding season to include the Unified Soccer program of Special Olympics PA - Philadelphia, Delaware County SPCA, Philly ACCT, St. Baldrick's, Coats for Chester, Chester-Upland School District (school supply drives), Philadelphia Union Foundation, Keystone Wounded Warrior Project of PA, William Trippley Youth Development Foundation and several others.
- Schaefer, Mari (2007-09-17). "Sons of Ben have one goal: Pro soccer, here". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-02-09. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
- Wells, Steven (2007-06-06). "US soccer punks 1, McFans 0". Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved 2008-02-04.
- Bender, William (2008-01-31). "Pa. kicks in $47M for soccer stadium and other parts of $414M Chester project". The Philadelphia Daily News. Archived from the original on 2008-02-14. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
- "MLS awards Philadelphia 2010 expansion team". MLSnet.com. 2008-02-28. Archived from the original on 2008-03-02. Retrieved 2008-02-28.
- "The Sons Also Rise". Philadelphia Weekly. 2008-03-14. Retrieved 2008-03-14.
- Gammage, Jeff (2008-01-18). "Soccer fans out to light spark". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Archived from the original on 2008-01-21. Retrieved 2008-02-09.
- "Sons of Ben and MLS Philadelphia 2010 team up to "Help Kick Hunger"". 2008-12-14. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- "MLS Superdraft With the Sons of Ben". 2011-01-16. Retrieved 2011-01-17.