Philadelphia Union and WSFS Bank to develop a premier sports and recreation destination

Philadelphia Union

Major League Soccer club Philadelphia Union, in partnership with WSFS Bank, have commenced operations for a multi-purpose Sportsplex – a 170,000 sq. ft. and 32- acre state-of-the-art sports and recreation destination to be open 365 days a year.

WSFS Bank joins the project as a naming rights partner, and the facility will be named WSFS Bank Sportsplex as part of their multi-year agreement as announced earlier in the year. In line with the partnership, WSFS Bank will also donate 365 hours of field and facility usage to the various organisations in the community.

The world-class sports complex will span 32 acres between Subaru Park and the Union Power Plant office building. A 100,000 sq. ft. indoor facility will be accessible for community use, along with an adjoining 70,000 sq. ft. support building which will house Philadelphia Union’s second team. Union’s academy will also be included in the complex.

A 20,000 sq. ft. performance centre with weight rooms, sprint track, locker rooms, and a café for athletes and guests, along with a 125×75 yard turf field and two courts capable of hosting four cross-width activities will be part of the indoor facilities. To complement the indoor facilities, seven outdoor multi-sport fields, including one championship grass field with spectator seating, two additional full-size grass fields, one youth-size grass field, and three full-size turf fields will be part of the project.

The project, worth over $87 million, marks a substantial stride in the expansion and revitalisation of the Chester Waterfront, creating employment and tourism opportunities while also infusing millions of dollars into the Chester community.

“The announcement of WSFS Bank Sportsplex is the beginning of an important next chapter for the Philadelphia Union and the growth and development of the Chester Waterfront,” Philadelphia Union President Tim McDermott said via a press release.

In addition, the project will bring the Philadelphia Union Academy and YSC Academy to one campus alongside the first and second teams, furthering the commitment to youth development and the player-to-pro pathway.

Philadelphia Union Principal Owner Jay Sugarman said via press release:

“This best-in-class facility will provide a singular home for our professional and academy teams while creating a premier destination for local youth groups to fall in love with sports. Alongside Subaru Park, WSFS Bank Sportsplex will become another centrepiece of our club and community strategy and I could not be prouder to see this project come to fruition.”

The project is expected to generate $90 million in economic impact over the first decade and provide 500,000 visits to the Chester waterfront each year.

Speaking about the project, Chester Mayor Thaddeus Kirkland said via press release:

“This project shows the continued commitment and partnership that the city shares with the Philadelphia Union, and It will create better jobs, more recreational opportunities, and a bridge that connects our community to our beautiful waterfront.”

WSFS Chairman, President, and CEO, Rodger Levenson, added via press release:

“The positive economic impact to Chester, a place where players can collaborate and prosper from the values of sports and a beautiful place where the community can host fun, safe events are just a few of the reasons we wanted to join the Union in bringing the WSFS Bank Sportsplex to Chester and we are proud of the legacy we are building together for the community and the region”.

The WSFS Sportsplex is scheduled to be completed in June 2024, with the outdoor fields opening in August 2023 and the indoor facilities opening in June the next year. For more information, visit here.

Football Victoria choose INTIX as exclusive ticketing provider

Football Victoria have confirmed a new and exciting partnership with ticketing and membership company INTIX, which will commence in 2024 in time for next season.

INTIX will become the exclusive ticketing provider for all FV-managed events and will be the preferred provider for events at The Home of the Matildas.

This collaboration will also make FV’s event management more efficient and improve communication with fans and sponsors through their CRM systems.

INTIX is an Australian owned and operated company that specialise in event operations, ticketing and marketing specifically for sporting events.

The company was established in 2017 by Alex Grant with an ambitious goal to provide the best ticketing platform available to event organisers, clubs and venues.

INTIX partnered with Melbourne Victory to provide digital ticketing for all its corporate hospitality functions, and they have worked many high-scale football events.

The company also has experience in the NBL with the Tasmanian JackJumpers and in 2021 worked with AFL Victoria to supply ticketing services to metropolitan leagues and clubs.

This partnership for FV scratches the surface for what is the possibility in the future for NPL and A-League matches that have completely different systems. The expensive processing fees of Ticketek and Ticketmaster have left many fans frustrated at the process of purchasing their ticket and success with this collaboration could see INTIX expand inside the sport of football.

FV Executive Manager of Commercial, Chris Speldewinde, spoke about the improvements to matchday operations that will be made through this collaboration.

“We are thrilled to join forces with INTIX. Their state-of-the-art ticketing and CRM solutions will not only optimise our operations but also elevate our engagement with fans and sponsors. This collaboration signifies an exciting new chapter for Football Victoria,” he said in a statement.

INTIX’s advanced ticketing system will simplify the purchasing of tickets to these events and be readily available to fans online, reducing wait times to provide seamless access into events.

As the Home of the Matildas begins to stage bigger events, this partnership importantly professionalises the experience of getting to the seat and helps FV manage big crowds a lot easier.

It’s a collaboration that allows FV to focus more on strategic growth initiatives and delivering a better experience for fans and stakeholders.

Uncertainty looms around National Second Tier’s future

The highly anticipated National Second Tier (NST) in its proposed format is set to be postponed by Football Australia, with the body looking to find alternative ways to include these NPL clubs into a similar structure that would be more financially viable.

Vince Rugari of the Sydney Morning Herald broke the news on Tuesday claiming the highly ambitious second tier was likely going to be put on hold after the original plan was to have 10 to 14 foundation clubs forming a separate league, without promotion or relegation to start.

There was a very high financial threshold that the eight foundation clubs needed to reach in order to be granted a licence and unfortunately with rumours of some in the eight sceptical of its viability, other NPL clubs with a proposal in the original plan have backed away from the idea for the time being.

For what is meant to be a ‘national competition’, having clubs from NSW and Victoria only is quite restricted but the search for a financially strong club outside of the two states, willing to take that massive financial risk, is a task that is too difficult in the country’s current state of football affairs.

There has been a lack of a clear message from Football Australia across the past 12 months. The eight foundation clubs were left on standby about important information like the correct format, whether it was going to expand to 10 or 12 teams that Football Australia promised multiple times, or when the league would actually kick off in winter of 2025 or beyond that considering the shaky A-League finances being the main subject of discussion surrounding the initial success of the NSD.

After the A-Leagues controversial call to reduce initial funding of top tier clubs to $530k a year from its usual $2m a year, a properly run second division seems like a task too far down its priority list despite the positive feedback it has received from fans and clubs about implementing a ‘transformative’ system mirroring European football.

An idea being floated around as a possible solution to the unviability of a separate league is to add existing A-League teams to the ‘Champions League-style’ second division, which would essentially be a more exclusive version of the existing Australia Cup.

Football Australia CEO James Johnson told The Asian Game exclusively that “we will have a (national) second tier it will exist,” but the home and away format played during the winter is a long shot and the foundation clubs are left in limbo wondering what their immediate futures are considering the heavy financial investment they will have to make if it goes ahead.

This whole saga has been a case of Football Australia pushing away the problems that quickly arose from this ambitious idea and being too reactive when it comes to finding a solution that would be fair for the foundation clubs financially.

The NSD must wait and not force itself into a fragile Australian football landscape that has many more issues it must worry about in the top flight before building a second division that could financially damage some of the most historic clubs in Victoria and NSW.

In a world where Australian football needs authority and structure, the collapse of the original idea of the NSD proves there is a long way to go and communication towards the clubs and fans involved has to improve.

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