If the fates allow, football may meet futbol in the near future.
Union president Tom Veit told the Daily News that preliminary discussions with Villanova University have taken place in entertaining the idea of PPL Park becoming the possible home of Villanova football. On Friday, the Daily News revealed the program is heavily considering an invite from the Big East Conference. Villanova, current champions of the Football Championship Subdivision, could make a move to the Football Bowl Subdivision ranks officially in 2014, following a 2-year waiting period mandated by the NCAA.
"We have had preliminary discussions with Villanova and are willing to discuss PPL Park as a possible home for their football program," said Veit, formerly an associate athletic director for external affairs at Big East power South Florida. "There are a lot of things to be ironed out, but we know our place is a conceivable option."
Villanova Stadium, the Wildcats home since 1927, does not meet specifications in size for a FBS venue despite the renovation of a new press box and an 85-seat addition that took place in 1999. NCAA requires all FBS schools to meet 15,000 in actual or paid attendance for one year over a 2-year period. Villanova Stadium houses just 12,000, and with the school nestled in the heart of the Main Line, room for expansion is virtually out of the question.
PPL Park, which seats 18,500, holds an actual capacity of 22,000 with its pair of viewing decks on the upper concourse. But according to Veit, the size isn't the issue. The main concerns are scheduling with the start of the college football season, which starts right around the third and final phase of a 30-game MLS campaign. In addition, field maintenance is an issue, with the brunt of both sports weighing heavily on PPL's natural-grass facility. The pitch is Bermuda Patriot grass, a lush compound that is supposed to be able to withstand the rigors of the elements, Veit told the Daily News during the unveiling of the six-month old facility.
"Those really are the two biggest questions we have as a franchise," said Veit. "The scheduling is something that can be worked out, but the field is another issue. We want our fans to know that this is a soccer venue first and foremost and we don't want to hurt the integrity of that. At the same time, Villanova is an excellent college football program right here in our backyard; we are willing to help in anyway we can should a move to the Big East become a reality."