Bethlehem Steel FC’s three June home matches will be played away from Talen Energy Stadium to lessen the strain on the pitch, the Philadelphia Union announced on Friday.
“We installed a new field last fall at Talen Energy Stadium. Unfortunately, the field has not yet rooted and stabilized. In order to give the field time to recover and grow, we are relocating Steel FC matches throughout the month of June,” Tim McDermott, Philadelphia Union Chief Business Officer, said in a news release. “This will give the field at Talen Energy Stadium almost a full month without any playing activity, pending the possibility of one Union Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup match during the week of June 17. We believe this is the best decision for the integrity of the playing surface.”
Sunday’s game against Nashville SC and Saturday’s match against Saint Louis FC will be played at McCarthy Stadium, the home of the men’s and women’s soccer teams at La Salle University. The June 22 match against Tampa Bay Rowdies will be played at a venue to-be-determined.
The Union moved home matches for the Steel FC to Chester after they were unable to find a suitable venue in the Lehigh Valley that met league standards. The league granted waivers in each of their first three seasons to play at Goodman Stadium, which does not have lights.
McDermott has expressed the club’s desire to have the team return to Lehigh Valley next season but finding a venue that would meet the standards for a Division 2 team in the USL Championship remains a sticking point. McDermott had said previously that they planned to host at least one game this season in the Lehigh Valley.
“We have been working toward identifying locations in the Lehigh Valley at which we can play matches; unfortunately, venue availability and scheduling reasons prohibit us from playing the June 9 and June 15 matches at those venues, including Goodman Stadium,” McDermott said. “We remain open to the possibility of future matches in Bethlehem this season, pending availability and USL approval.”
Kickoff for this Sunday’s match at McCarthy Stadium will remain unchanged at 6 p.m. ET. The match on Saturday, June 15 will kick off at 8 p.m. ET (previously scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET). All details for the contest on Saturday, June 22 will be announced as they come available.
Continued McDermott: “Simultaneously, we have been vocal about our desire to play Steel FC matches in Bethlehem this season despite our overall restrictions in doing so on a full-time basis. We have been working toward identifying locations in the Lehigh Valley at which we can play matches; unfortunately, venue availability and scheduling reasons prohibit us from playing the June 9 and June 15 matches at those venues, including Goodman Stadium. We remain open to the possibility of future matches in Bethlehem this season, pending availability and USL approval.”
All Union or Steel FC Season Ticket Members having general admission access to 2019 Steel FC matches at Talen Energy Stadium will receive identical access to matches at McCarthy Stadium. Steel FC supporters with assigned seats at Talen Energy Stadium will have analogous accommodations as well, having access to a reserved area in a similar location. Parking for all Steel FC matches will continue to be free.
Any supporter having purchased a single-game ticket for any affected match has the option to exchange that ticket for a future Steel FC match at Talen Energy Stadium, if desired.