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Union eying two Delaware County sites for practice complex

Photo: Earl Gardner

Philadelphia Union is considering two undisclosed Delaware County locations for construction of a new practice facility, Union chief executive Nick Sakiewicz said Wednesday.

Sakiewicz said the club has no specific timeline for construction but hopes to finalize a plan and possibly start work this year. A complex would likely include multiple fields, some of which would be open for use by local amateur clubs, he said.

“Building a practice facility is our single top priority now,” Sakiewicz said in an annual State of the Union telephone conference call with media on Wednesday.

The Union typically train at PPL Park or the grass fields at Chester Park, a local public park, with occasional training sessions at YSC in Wayne. Their lack of a practice facility has drawn increased interest in recent weeks, particularly after current and former Union players recently joked on Twitter about the lack of a practice complex and the team’s training sessions in a public park. Sakiewicz said a training facility was important when recruiting new players.

Sakiewicz said the Union originally had planned to build a practice facility on Lot B outside PPL Park in Chester but have decided against it because of the poor business climate created by Chester government officials.

“We’re just uncertain of what we would be faced with if we did build those fields (in Chester),” Sakiewicz said.

Sakiewicz said the Union were open to reconsidering the site within the PPL Park if circumstances changed, but he said he did not have confidence in the current Chester city administration.

The comments about building a new training facility were arguably the biggest news, but not the only news out of the event.

Other notable tidbits from Sakiewicz’s conference call include:

  • Alejandro Moreno will not return as the Union’s local TV analyst in 2014. Moreno is the third Union color analyst in the Union’s four-year history to move onto a national TV position (ESPN) after spending a year broadcasting Union games, following Taylor Twellman (ESPN) and Kyle Martino (Fox). Former Philadelphia Kixx goalkeeper Peter Pappas, who currently plays for the Pennsylvania Roar, will take over the color commentary duties.
  • The Union’s parking revenues dropped significantly last year, in large part because of lower priced parking lots on land outside the PPL Park complex. The city government’s approval of these lots is part of what has contributed to the problematic relationship with the Union.
  • Television ratings for local Union broadcasts went up 47 percent last year.
  • Former manager Peter Nowak’s wrongful termination lawsuit against the club remains open and unsettled. “It is still open,” Sakiewicz said. “I can’t comment in any detail on that because it is still open.”


  1. Dislike the Ale news. Really enjoyed him as a commentator.

  2. Congratulations to Alejandro, we will miss you!

  3. Maybe if they paved the goddamn lot, they’d have people willing to pay for it.

    Good for Ale. I remember seeing Pappas at Kixx games when I was younger. Serious blast from the past.

  4. Is JP Dellacamera that hard to work with? 5 years and 5 different partners…

    • I doubt it is that JPD is hard to work with. All but Rigby moved on to a bigger gig and Rigby was just not cut out for the job…

    • No I think the Union announcing gig is known to be a good stepping stone to getting better national jobs. Because almost every announcer has moved up.

      I would like to see someone settle down here and become the voice of the union, but it isn’t likely to happen any time soon.

    • Yea JP is so easy to work with, and has some national recognition, that the Union have been able to land top notch guys. As much as I love Kyle, Taylor and Ale, all 3 of them (or at least the last 2) deserve to be doing national games. I wish we could keep Ale when he wasn’t doing national stuff, but they can’t compete with ESPN money.

      • Glad that Pappas will do the color. I complained to the FO when Rigby was here and recommended that if they want to have a color guy on the cheap, why not move Pappas from radio broadcasts.
        He doesn’t have national recognition, but he does a decent enough job.

        Of the last three good ones, Ale was the only one that didn’t annoy me after while. Martino shouldn’t really even announce, and Twellman starts to sound a lot like Harkes after while.

        On the other hand, JP has always annoyed me. Every shot is not “quick.” But I’ll settle for him doing our games.

  5. John O'Donnell says:

    Local TV up 47% in one season? Imagine if this team makes a run in the playoffs this year, with the chance the Phillies might not be that much fun to watch. They might actually have a chance to take advantage of the perfect storm and double that number this year with the World Cup bump.

  6. Poor business climate in Chester. Like asking for the money you were promised after you were given everything for free? Actually wanting you to pay taxes on the land? Unless you have proof there was actually a hostile business climate in Chester a better way to put this would be “Unable to reach an agreement with the city of Chester.”

    • Without going into detail in a public forum, Chester is not exactly a model on how to run a city. The tax issues with the Union simply mean the city will not look out for the team, like with the parking lots. The Union are not free of blame by any means, but that “working” relationship is damaged, and the city will try to soak up money from the team as Chester feels they are owed that. It is what it is, I’m not taking sides, but I think a suburban area closer to the city would be a better choice.

  7. up 47% but whats the number of viewers? did it go from 100 people watching to 147 people watching? is it 5k 10k 50k

    • I think the better question is: What were the ratings in 2010, 2011, and of course 2012. I could barely take Rigby in ’12, I’m sure many jumped ship. Plus the team completely tanked by August, so the ratings up from 2012 is good…but what are the yearly totals, and were they up in general?
      -I can also see a lot of people who wanted to be yearly STOs, stop renewing due to finances (myself included) and the problems with the quality of players and management.
      BUT it’s still good news.

  8. Good for Moreno, he is an excellent announcer and this is well deserved.
    Another old time Philly goalkeeper becoming announcer… What could go wrong?
    Glad I got season tickets this year.

  9. It’s a real shame that we won’t get to hear Moreno on Union broadcasts, but I don’t think that this is a surprise to anyone. Ale is really talented and I always thought that he was going to move on to a bigger job in the media.

    I’ve enjoy watching him on ESPN FC each week and look forward to his increased presence at ESPN during the World Cup this year.

  10. Wouldn’t shock me if the Union are at the Linc or some other non-PPL Park venue at some point in the future.

    • I think that is a possibility in the furture, but likely 10-15 years down the line, and only if PPL is sold out every game. Need to prove that you can fill at least half of a large capacity statium. You can’t walk away from a large investment in PPL that quickly.

  11. Good luck, Alejandro. I enjoyed your stay here, but could tell with the other games for which you were called that a national platform was awaiting.

  12. OneManWolfpack says:

    This training facility better show up ASAP. Pick a site, and start building. I don’t want this to be “in discussions” for 3 years. This team, with it’s spending this year (yes, not a TON, but a step forward), could really be on the cusp of planting themselves in the top half of this league. Build the site. And for god’s sake, fix the issues with Chester.

  13. Delco resident says:

    There’s land in Delco to develop?? Where?

  14. The Chopper says:

    Moreno will be missed. I am sure with his ability to broadcast in two languages, ESPN will want him on constant call during a World Cup year. With their multiple platforms for soccer coverage, Moreno will be a busy guy. He may have been the Union’s most improved performer over the course of last season. You could tell he was getting better every match.

    Pappas will be fine. His radio, halftime and sideline efforts were all quality. And unlike his predecessors, he is not looking for the road out of town. He might have the job for awhile and can be our guy. He just has to be sure not to be a company line guy. He is very close to Sak and the front office. One of Moreno’s best traits was his candor in addressing the team’s shortcomings.

    JP is what he is. A nuts and bolts soccer guy who has been around a long time. It must burn him a bit to see all of his partners moving up, while he is not getting any real piece of all the new soccer broadcasting opportunities that are opening up on the national level.

    He is solid, but very dull. And he does not really set up color commentators to be colorful. He is probably so used to working by himself and with inferior talent ( as he has over the over the years) that he doesn’t give the analyst enough time to work and doesn’t lead them well. I am amazed at how much more I enjoy Moreno and Twellman’s work when they are with others.

    He will probably be here for as long as the Union want him. There are not many good soccer PBP guys around.

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