On the field, the Philadelphia Union showed serious improvements from a year ago with an impressive 1-0 road win in Saturday’s season opener.
From a new television deal to fewer complications on game days, there are significant improvements already in place off the field, as well. Union fans will see some of them firsthand on Saturday for the club’s home opener vs. the Vancouver Whitecaps.
“The biggest thing around the stadium is that the parking situation is going to improve,” Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz told MLSsoccer.com. “Every one of the parking spaces is [walking distance] to the stadium. No satellite parking spots will be necessary.”
This news should come as a relief to Philly fans that had to park remotely and take shuttles to PPL Park last season. To amend that problem, the club built 1,000 more parking spots near the 18,500-seat stadium, which debuted to mostly rave reviews last summer.
Sakiewicz also said a new I-95 off-ramp in Chester should open at some point in June or July and will help immensely with traffic flow.
“This is a significant improvement to what we’ve done,” Sakiewicz said.
Another significant improvement is the club’s partnership with local TV giant Comcast SportsNet, which will partner with 6abc to air every Union game that is not televised nationally. Last season, 6abc had exclusive rights to the club’s local broadcasts, but some games were pushed off to the digital tier and were hard for fans to find on their cable boxes.
“This is a big move for us and our sponsors, and it’s something our fans were clamoring for after last season,” Sakiewicz said. “We’re pleased that we were able to deliver it for them. This is good progression for Year Two.”
On top of everything else, those tuning into the Union’s opener saw a new face in the booth alongside play-by-play man JP Dellacamera: former MLS star Taylor Twellman. This season, Twellman will be providing the color commentary for the club while Philadelphia soccer legend Bob Rigby will serve as a sideline reporter.
“We feel Taylor is a rising star in the broadcast world and we’re delighted to have him,” Sakiewicz said. “And Bob Rigby is a really accomplished soccer man. He will bring a lot of history and perspective.”