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Questions and answers about Union's PPL Park

AS THE Union prepares to play its final MLS game at Lincoln Financial Field against FC Dallas tomorrow, construction crews continue to apply finishing touches to the $115 million, soccer-specific palace on Chester's waterfront known as PPL Park.

The Union will play their last game at the Linc on Saturday and will begin playing at PPL Park. (Tom Gralish/Staff file photo)
The Union will play their last game at the Linc on Saturday and will begin playing at PPL Park. (Tom Gralish/Staff file photo)Read more

AS THE Union prepares to play its final MLS game at Lincoln Financial Field against FC Dallas tomorrow, construction crews continue to apply finishing touches to the $115 million, soccer-specific palace on Chester's waterfront known as PPL Park.

Set for a June 27 unveiling, PPL Park has evolved from a dirt lot and a dream into a world-class facility that makes Union president Tom Veit feel like an 8-year-old on Christmas morning. Earlier this week, the Daily News toured the facility with Veit, who talked about a day 4 years in the making.

Daily News: As it stands today, how complete would you say the stadium is?

Veit: I'd say we are in the 80th percentile somewhere. We still need to finish putting in the seats, the jumbo screen [which was being installed at the time of the interview], etc. But really, it's just a lot of touching up as we are finishing the interior of the [14-to-16-seat luxury] suites, interior of the Legends Club, and the millwork on the concession stands. But structurally, the building is complete and has been for quite some time.

DN: Here's the big question - what are you doing in terms of transportation? With the Commodore Barry Bridge ramps still under construction, what's the contingency plan?

TV: We have known for some time that the ramps were going to be delayed so we are working with Chester, its police and traffic departments for an ingress and egress plan. We will have parking on site and at a satellite location where fans will be shuttled in.

DN: What about fans who don't want to drive? What's your plan for them?

TV: We actually had a survey done that came back where 25 percent of our fans would like to use mass transportation. With that said, we have a plan out now with SEPTA where we will provide a shuttle service from the Chester Transportation Center that will run throughout the season and will take fans right to the front gates of the building.

(Editor's note: SEPTA spokesman Richard Maloney said that in addition to adding more cars to their R2 regional rail line on game days, additional buses like Route 113, which already services the area, could be added. For now, this is on a game-by-game basis.)

DN: When do you foresee ramps, which are a 2-year PennDOT project, being available?

TV: Probably not for this season, but we have a plan that will get people in and out of here with as least congestion as possible. Sure, it'll be a lot better when the ramps open, but again we don't have any control over when PennDOT gets those done.

DN: Once you get people here, where do they park? Because as it stands currently, there isn't a lot of space yet as the parking areas are a work in progress.

TV: All parking will be done by color codes [similar to what takes place at large events like the Super Bowl]. We are also looking at where people live and figuring out routes and which lot would work best for them.

DN: Explain, please.

TV: For instance, let's say you are a season ticketholder from West Chester. We are going to set up your parking lot and additionally provide you with the best route to the stadium based on your location. We hope to route traffic so that everyone isn't funneling in here off one exit, because that'll be madness.

DN: Safety is a big thing here, so ease the minds of Main Line soccer moms who want to come to a game but may be a bit wary of driving through some tough neighborhoods and even tougher crowds to do so.

TV: Security will be a mixture of ticket-takers, event staff and law enforcement, same as you'd see anywhere else; and we will have those people in place at the satellite lots as well. What we have seen from our game at the Linc is that we have a pretty well-behaved audience, they like to have a good time but they aren't crossing the line. We continually stress that this needs to be a fun environment and not a dangerous one.

DN: What do you say to people who think all this is being done for a team that isn't very good?

TV: We are six games in, people need to relax. Everyone wants to compare us to the success Seattle had last season, but Seattle didn't start on the road or play 10 of their first 12 games on the road. I have been traveling to every game with the team and I'm exhausted, and I don't even step on the field. We are nomads right now, but I can tell you as a front office we are not worried - it's a long season. Look, we expect to win, losing is not acceptable, but this is about the long run. We won our first game at home; keep that trend going and we'll be a high seed in the playoffs. Homefield advantage is a huge thing in MLS and in this building with 18,000 fans right on top of you, it's definitely going to incite our players and make it tough for any opponent.

DN: What is it like for you to see this building coming into its own, and what can fans expect?

TV: For me, it's like the kid at Christmas who stares at the tree with the presents under it. You keep wanting to open it, but you can't. The anticipation is indescribable. I can't put my finger on one set thing, it really is one of those things that fans will have to come experience. I can say this much, though, from the time you arrive until the time you leave it'll be a party.

For kicks

The parking lots on stadium grounds will be crushed stone for now, but the plan is to pave eventually . . . The Union has yet to announce the location of the satellite parking lots, but Tom Veit did note that most are a mile away and will have music for tailgaters, and music on Union-provided shuttle-bus services . . . Fans of opposing teams will sit in a section next to the Sons of Ben, separated by the players' tunnel . . . The supporters' section is officially known as the River End. "I wanted to call it the 'Bunker' but in honor of the SOB, it's known as the River End. Hey, it's their seats, they can name it whatever they want. I just think it is bunker-like, but the name didn't stick," Veit said . . . Sources told the Daily News that pending a deal, the Union plans to implement an in-seat food-service system where fans can order via smartphone (ie. iPhone, Blackberry, etc.). It's a system already in place at Rio Tinto Stadium, the home of MLS' Real Salt Lake. In addition, sources noted that if construction can be completed early, the Union is looking to hold an open house for season ticketholders June 12 to watch, on the jumbo screen, the U.S. take on England in the opening round of the World Cup. Veit wouldn't confirm but did say that there have been "plans in the works to do something special for our season ticketholders prior to June 27."

Shots on goald


FC Dallas (2-1-4) at Union (1-5)

When: Tomorrow, 4 o'clock

Where: Lincoln Financial Field

TV: 6.2 ABC (Live Well Network)

Comcast HD channel 245; Verizon Fios channel 466

On the web: Streaming webcast on

For kicks: FC Dallas, a team that likes to attack the opposition at will, has steadily climbed the rungs of the Western Conference ladder. Led by forward Jeff Cunningham (four goals in six games), Dallas is on a two-game win streak, the latest a 1-0 result over lowly D.C. United on the road . . . Dallas is 0-1-1 when leading at the half and 0-0-1 when trailing, and has gone 229 minutes without allowing a goal.


Out for the Union: Toni Stahl, DF (left knee strain) Probable: Sebastien Le Toux, FW (left knee sprain) Questionable for FC Dallas: Kyle Davies, DF (right arm fracture).


FC Dallas defender Jair Benitez will miss tomorrow's match after serving the second of a two-game suspension issued by MLS. Benitez will sit this game for an infraction not called by the officials in the 20th minute of FC Dallas' 1-0 win over Houston on May 5.


Former Drexel defender Jeff Parke, who signed yesterday with Seattle Sounders FC.


Much of the talk this week has concentrated on the selections for the U.S. World Cup team. In 1950 Philadelphia Nationals forward Ben McLaughlin was selected for the U.S. team, but declined to go. That team went to Brazil and beat England, 1-0. Why didn't McLaughlin make the trip?

A. He couldn't get off work

B. He played for Ireland instead

C. He was afraid to fly

By Jamie Clary, author of "The First American Soccer Trivia Book," available at:

Send search engine-free answer to: First to respond will receive a free copy of Clary's book.