An MLS stadium was not an economic answer in Chester.
It appears that the proposed stadium-village in Chester, Pennsylvania is a step closer to reality after more than a decade of not much happening. The owners of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union plan to build an athletic center next to the city’s soccer stadium. A 170,000-square foot sportsplex is part of the ongoing effort to develop and revitalize the Delaware River Waterfront. Ongoing is a key word here as it has been 12-years since the stadium opened with a planned village that was to go with it. But the recession of 2008 killed the village portion of the plan and with it the revival of Chester’s economy. Chester was one of the poorest cities in America in 2008 and there was not a supermarket in town. The sports complex will span 32 acres between the Union’s soccer stadium, and the Union Power Plant office building. “We believe this will make us a premier location for soccer on the East Coast, and elevate Chester and make its waterfront an iconic location for the region,” said Jay Sugarman, principal owner of the Union.
The project will bring the Philadelphia Union Academy and YSC Academy to one campus. The academies were developed by the organization for the development of young soccer players and to provide a pathway for them to become professional players. That is a good development but Chester has not really seen any real financial growth after various government agencies provided about $500 million to build a stadium in 2008. Even the city of Chester’s website cannot sugarcoat the Chester waterfront revitalization was a failure. The multi-use stadium provides scenic views of the Commodore Barry Bridge and its surrounding grounds have significantly enhanced the Chester waterfront. Chester has not seen any real economic growth from having a stadium in town, people go to games and then go home about 17 times a year.
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