Philadelphia is a sports town. And while football, baseball, hockey and basketball dominate the headlines, the most passionate sports fans can be found down in Chester County at the Philadelphia Union stadium. See why a Philadelphia Union game may be the most Philly thing around.
Not heard of the Union yet? Read on and we’ll catch you up.
The Philadelphia Union is the local Major League Soccer (MLS) club. Major League Soccer is the fastest growing professional sport in the U.S. Philadelphia secured an expansion club, who kicked off their inaugural season in 2010.
And in the competitive MLS, our Philly Union actually do a pretty good job. In 2019, the team secured a spot in the playoffs. And in the 2020 season, the Union had the best record during regular match play.
The season basically coincides with baseball season. The Union play 34 MLS league matches between mid-April and early November every year. If the team does well, there is also the potential to play in the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) Champions League against the best teams from Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. This added a handful of additional Union games to the 2021 schedule.
And the Philly Union Stadium, called Subaru Park, is where all the action goes down right on the banks of the Delaware River.
The Philadelphia Union take their inspiration from the city’s importance as the Birthplace of America. The team’s motto, “Join or Die,” comes from the time when the 13 colonies had to unite to oppose British tyranny. And the center of that revolution was right here.
“Join or Die!” was also a political cartoon developed and published by Benjamin Franklin. It featured a snake cut into 13 pieces. The Philadelphia Union have embraced the call to revolution, as well as the symbolism. The team’s mascot, Phang, is a playful snake with a colorful blue mohawk haircut.
But nowhere is the Union team pride more evident than in the River End section of the stadium. Here the local supporters club, known as the Sons of Ben (yes, SOBs), rally with their calls, chants, beating of drums, screams, and generally showing their team spirit.
And after each and every Union goal, join the Sons of Ben in screaming the “DOOP!”
The Philadelphia Union colors are taken directly from the Revolution War when the Continental Army wore dark navy blue uniforms appointed with gold trim. The Union’s navy blue and golden yellow are meant to underscore our roots as the first capital city of the United States of America.
There’s no ‘one chant’ at Union matches. There are around 27 different chants that you might hear during a match. The Sons of Ben has even put out a CD (or via streaming service) so you can learn them all. A chant booklet can also ben printed off the Sons of Ben website here.
But the most common chant you’ll hear is Philadelphia over and over again:
Phil-a-del-phia (2 fast claps, followed by 3 regular claps)
The Philadelphia soccer stadium was built between 2008-2010 at a cost of over $120 million. It can hold around 18,000 fans for most matches and has neared 20,000 for really important games.
It is located right on the banks of the Delaware River and almost immediately under the Commodore Barry Bridge, which connects Chester County in Pennsylvania with Gloucester County in New Jersey. The bridge and the river provide a dynamic view, but the real action is on the field.
The Philadelphia Union soccer stadium has actually gone by a couple of different names as naming rights to the stadium have been sold several times. For the first 5 seasons, it was known as PPL Park (from 2010-2015), and then Talen Energy Stadium for the next 4 seasons (2016-2019).
Subaru of the Americas stepped up and became the flagship sponsor of the club in 2020. The Union Stadium is known as Subaru Park, in honor of the car company headquartered nearby in New Jersey.
The stadium is a single tier horseshoe with the field (called a pitch in soccer) running North-South. There are luxury boxes on the Western and Eastern stands. The Southern stands, known as the River End, sit atop the locker rooms for both the Union and the away teams.
The stadium is located at: One Stadium Drive, Chester, PA 19013.
Unlike some other professional sports, you don’t need to take out a loan to buy tickets. The ticket price range is still within financial reach of many families. When you go to a Philly Union game, it’s not surprising to see families and kids…lots of kids.
Individual tickets range from $33-172. Full season passes start at $450 for the River End and go up from there. Philadelphia Union tickets can be purchased directly from the club here.
Food & Drink
There is no shortage of food and drink concessions inside the stadium. Like nearly all stadiums, concessions are located on the lower level under the seats.
The concession vendors change a bit over the years, but the general type of food available remains fairly constant. Chickie’s & Pete’s and their famous crab fries is always a crowd pleaser. Being Philly and our love for the cheesesteak, there’s always a steak vendor. Currently that concession is held by Philips Steaks, who also serves up roast pork too. The general burger concession is held by local pub favorite, P.J. Whelihan’s. There are also vendors for hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, Italian sausages, ice cream, and lots and lots of beer. A full list of concessions can be found here.
Didn’t bring your Union gear? The Club Shop is open before, during and after matches so you can stock up on t-shirts, jerseys and supporters scarves. The main shop is located under the north stands, but there are kiosks under the East and West stands as well.
For the Kids
And if your kids are getting a little bored, there are some games and amusements in the plaza just outside of the West gate. It’s a chance for the kids to burn off a little energy.
Don’t fret, there’s also a trailer for the 21+ crowd providing refreshing adult beverages.
The easiest and most convenient way to the stadium is by driving. From areas North, South, or West, take I-95 to the Route 322 exit. Before going over the bridge, look for the Chester Exit (Routes 291/13). If you are coming from New Jersey, go over the Commodore Barry Bridge on Route 322 and take the first exit for Chester (Routes 291/13). From there, you’ll see the stadium and local signage will direct you to parking.
If you want to arrive by public transportation, take the SEPTA Wilmington/Newark Line to the Chester Transportation Center. From there, a shuttle runs every 20 minutes to the Subaru Park stadium.
The easiest way to park at the stadium is to pre-purchase a parking pass off the Union website here. They will give you a designated lot and you can be sure you’ll have a spot. It’s not cheap. Depending on the lot, it will set you back $20-30. But it is convenient.
If you are looking for cheaper parking, the churches across 2nd Street along Tilghman Street sell parking as a fundraiser.
If you are an Away Supporter or from out of town visiting, there are some hotel options nearby. There’s not a lot around the stadium itself and you probably wouldn’t want to stay in that area.
The closest hotel is the Candlewood Suites in Chester, located across the street from the casino. This budget, no frills option is close and convenient.
Otherwise, your best hotel options are near the airport. This also puts you in proximity to some better restaurants and other services. Two solid options are both located at the Ridley Park exit of I-95. The Home2 Suites by Hilton Ridley Park Philadelphia Airport South and the La Quinta Inn & Suites Philadelphia Airport are both convenient to the stadium.
If you’re looking for something a little nicer, there are several upscale and business hotels at the Philadelphia Airport. The closest and most convenient of these is the Delta Hotel by Marriott at the Philadelphia Airport (formerly the Renaissance atrium hotel).
If you want to be a real Philadelphia Union fan, follow these pro tips to get the most of your match experience:
Show your colors! Dress in your Union shirts. If you don’t have one or it is your first game, come dressed in navy blue.
Pre-purchase parking. It will make your life easier on game day.
Arrive early. The gates open about an hour before kickoff. Arrive early, get your food and drinks and make your way to your seats so you don’t miss any of the action.
Be prepared. No large bags, equipment and extra stuff is allowed in the stadium. Leave all that baggage in the car. You’re here for a game, not to move in.