Talen Energy Stadium – Philadelphia Union
Sons of Philadelphia
The Philadelphia Union competes in Major League Soccer (MLS) as a member of the Eastern Conference of the league. They began in 2010 as an expansion team. Earlier attempts to bring the MLS to the area failed at Trenton, New Jersey and at Rowan University (also in New Jersey). The MLS is soccer’s highest level in both the United States and Canada
Talen Energy Stadium opened in 2010 after commitments of $30 million from Delaware County and $47 million from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Until 2016 it was called PPL Park.
Besides soccer, there have been two “Battle of the Blue” football games played here between the University of Delaware and Villanova. The stadium has also hosted two quarterfinal matches in the 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship, the Major League Lacrosse’s Championship known as the Steinfeld Cup, the 2015 ACC Lacrosse Championship and for the last two years the NCAA Division I and Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship. The 2013 and 2016 College Cups was held at Talen Energy Stadium.
Talen Energy Stadium hosted its first rugby union international on November 9, 2013, when the Māori All Blacks squared off against the United States. That match was won by the visiting New Zealand Māori All Blacks 29-19. The stadium is also home to various concerts and other events.
Chester, PA is a city of 33,972 located in Delaware County. Located southwest of Philadelphia towards Wilmington, Delaware. It is situated on the Delaware River. Widener University is also located in Chester.
Food & Beverage 5
Talen Energy Stadium has a pretty incredible variety of food options. The concourse has a large variety of almost every food type. This is the Philadelphia area so cheesesteaks are alway prevalent. I noticed at least four different kinds being offered at around $10. The chicken cheesesteak is a personal favorite.
Chickie’s and Pete’s also has a couple of locations inside the stadium. The staple here is their Crab Fries. You must try them at least once. They also offer a pretty good chicken cutlet sandwich, available plain or in buffalo style, for $9.75.
There are a few other unique options around the concourse. “The Striker” is a sandwich that features Pork Roll (a south New Jersey favorite) and Cheese, while another stand had a brie and apple grilled sandwich. The Barbeque stand features Pulled Pork ($10) and Brisket ($10) options. You will not go hungry here, although the prices are pretty high.
Another cool option are the soft Philly style pretzels in the shape of a U for Union. These are a good value at $4.50. Turkey Hill Ice Cream can be found around at a few stands.
Beer can be bought for $7.50 and up. Local options such as Victory and Dogfish Head are more expensive, but sure taste better than the standard beer options.
The tailgate scene in the parking lot is pretty strong. It looked like the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field, or some other football stadium. There were many more people out there than I expected. The various supporter groups each had strong showings.
Once inside the stadium you will find a U-shaped set of three grandstands, with an additional smaller stands at the riverside. This is called the “River End” and is where the team’s supporter groups sit during the game. That area can get pretty rowdy and lively.
I like that it seems like a European stadium in that the team name is spelled out in the East stand seats.
The main complaint is that there is only one scoreboard, located in the north end and is hard to see for many fans.
The neighborhood is terrible. Chester is a downtrodden community that is not showing much life. The area around the stadium is safe in game days but you will not want to venture too far away. And, frankfully, there is no reason to do so as there is no local establishments worth going to.. Keep to the local parking lots and areas where there are fans.
Harrah’s Casino is right down Delaware Avenue from the stadium. If you are the gambling type this may be worth a visit. They offer gaming, as well as OTB and live harness racing. The track was built over top part of the river, so it is worth checking out.
There is a nice entrance plaza, where kids can expect to play some interactive games and participate in various vendor giveaways.
There are additional plans calling for a riverwalk amidst other entertainment, retail, and residential projects in the area. None of these are currently close to opening.
The most famous of the Union fans are the Sons of Ben supporter group. They were founded in January of 2007, way before the team was actually in existence. The group is a registered nonprofit,with more than 5,000 members, they also used to manage the Philadelphia Independence supporters group Daughters of Betsy.
There are other supporter groups that crowd the River’s End part of the stadium. So check out the Tammany Saints, IllegitimateS, The Bridge Crew and the Corner Creeps. When the rival New York Red Bulls are in town, expect these groups to be very loud. They all provide a great match-time atmosphere.
The rest of the fans are also good. The stadium is loud and knows and understands the sport very well.
The stadium can be pretty easy to get to. It is not far from I-95 via
Route 322 towards New Jersey. If you cross the Commodore Barry Bridge from Pennsylvania you have gone too far.
Delaware Avenue is the main street right by the stadium and runs north all the way to the Philadelphia International Airport.
Parking is pretty expensive at $20, but is fairly plentiful. There are also shuttles to the
SEPTA Chester Transportation Center for the regional train, but I don’t really think it is a popular option. There is also an Uber and Lyft specific lot located near to the stadium.
Access getting out, after the games is much more difficult. There will be a lots of cars slowly trying to get back onto Route 322 West. Expect delays as no one sticks around the area after the game.
Return on Investment 4
The parking is $20 so that drives down the return on investment. But the tickets are generally average by MLS standards. $25 to $50 will get you a seat, while the sideline seats that go from $40 are the best values.
The dramatic view of the Commodore Barry Bridge makes this stadium stand out. It provides a cool atmosphere for watching the matches.
While marveling at the bridge, you can also admire the River’s End seating area. That lively set of groups stands and cheers the whole match. If you can handle the constant drumming and chanting you are good to go.
Tailgating is quite good at the stadium. I did not expect to see that level of support for American soccer.
You should also wander around the concourse and look at the various soccer memorabilia presented. The team is really trying to be a member of the local soccer community. While in this area you should also stop by the well-stocked Union fan store to see the many ways you can support the team by wearing their merchandise.
Talen Energy Stadium is a well designed soccer stadium located on a beautiful setting along the Delaware River. The only bad thing is that the neighboring areas of the city of Chester are not as idyllic as the setting.
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Overall, Talen Energy Stadium is a beautiful and raucous addition to MLS and worth the visit for away supporters or soccer fans in general. The ground was built with a little higher budget than first-generation stadium like Columbus Crew Stadium and it shows, and while no one would mistake the surrounding area for anything other than the residential ghetto which it is, one also hopes that someday some sports bars and shops will go in nearby. Without them, the park is a gleaming spaceship settled down in an area where it doesn’t really fit – beautiful, but entirely self-contained.