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  • Richard Smith

Subaru Park – Philadelphia Union


Photos by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71

Subaru Park 1 Stadium Dr Chester, PA 19013

Philadelphia Union website

Subaru Park website


Year Opened: 2010

Capacity: 18,500

 

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.

Subaru Park opened in 2010 in Chester, PA, and has also been called PPL Park and Talen Energy Stadium. Besides soccer, there have been “Battle of the Blue” football games played here between the University of Delaware and Villanova. The stadium has also hosted the NCAA Division I Men’s Lacrosse Championship, the Major League Lacrosse’s Championship known as the Steinfeld Cup, the ACC Lacrosse Championship, and the NCAA Division I and Division III Women’s Lacrosse Championship, as well as numerous rugby matches and concerts.

Chester is a city located southwest of Philadelphia towards Wilmington, Delaware, and is directly on the Delaware River.

Food & Beverage 5

Subaru Park 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 always prevalent. Philips Steaks is a great option for this item.

Chickie’s and Pete’s has as their staple item the Crab Fries. You must try them at least once. They also offer a pretty good chicken cutlet sandwich, available plain or in buffalo style.

There are a few other unique options around the concourse such as Scoops N’ Smiles, P.J. Whelihans, and Chank’s Pizza Cones.

Prices are normal prices for a venue of this size, which means not that cheap.

Atmosphere 4

The tailgate scene in the parking lot is pretty strong. It looks like the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field, or some other football stadium. There are many more people out there than I expected. The various supporter groups each have strong showings.

Once inside the stadium, you will find a U-shaped set of three grandstands, with an additional smaller stand 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.

Facing River at Subaru Park, Photo by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey


The main complaint is that there is only one scoreboard, located in the north end, and is hard to see for many fans.

Neighborhood 1

The neighborhood is terrible. Chester is a downtrodden community that is not showing much life. The area around the stadium is safe on game days but you will not want to venture too far away. And, frankly, there is no reason to do so as there are limited local establishments worth going to. Keep to the local parking lots and areas where there are fans. The one exception at this time is The Larimer Beer Company, a short walk away from the Union’s training complex. It appears to be mainly open on game days and offers some nice drink options. No food is offered there although they may have an occasional food truck outside.

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 a 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.

Fans 5

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. There are other supporter groups that crowd the River’s End part of the stadium. They all provide a great match-time atmosphere. The rest of the fans are also good. The stadium is loud and fans know and understand the sport very well.

Access 3

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 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 the stadium. Access getting out after the games is much more difficult. There will be a lot of cars slowly trying to get back onto Route 322 West. Expect delays as no one sticks around the area after the game.

If coming from the south we recommend getting off I-495 in Claymont, DE, and driving through Marcus Hook, PA, and the south part of Chester, PA along US Route 13.

Return on Investment 4

The parking is pricey 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 are the best value.

Extras 4

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.

Final Thoughts

Subaru Park is a well-designed soccer stadium located in 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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