A proposed U.S. Open Cup match the Philadelphia Union is trying to make work at Franklin Field may not be the only soccer played at the historic venue on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in 2019.
The National Independent Soccer Association club announced for the Philadelphia market in October appears to be targeting the 52,000-seat West Philadelphia venue as their home venue for the league’s inaugural season slated to start in August. The team, according to a graphic shared in the Twitter post below, will apparently be named the Philadelphia Fury.
The original North American Soccer League Fury played a playoff game at Franklin Field in 1979 and the Philadelphia Atoms NASL team called the venue home for its final season in 1976. It was also home to the 1976 College Cup won by the University of San Francisco.
The venue was used sparingly as a soccer venue after that though it seems despite being evaluated as a possible venue for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and hosting a friendly between the U.S. men’s national team and a team from the former Soviet Union in 1989.
Interestingly enough, TheCup.us was unable to locate records of any previous Open Cup matches being played at the stadium.
A narrow turf field with permanent gridiron lines (made even more narrow because of the stadium’s uniquely-sized track) seems less than ideal for both an Open Cup match and as a regular season home venue for a pro soccer team unless resources available to install a modular field. The size of the venue also likely means a lot of empty seats even with respectable attendance figures.
Still, the history of the venue first opened in 1895 and the location in a desirable neighborhood in the city would both be pluses. The initial announcement of the Philadelphia market for NISA emphasized the history of the sport in the city dating back to 1881 so if nothing else playing at Franklin Field would fit in with what the new league is trying to accomplish in the market.
What do you think of Franklin Field as a soccer venue? Let us know in the comments.