The idea of the Philadelphia Union having a better presence in the city of Philadelphia is not a new one, but having a more permanent space to hold events, sell merchandise and market the team is a concept that is being seriously explored.
When the suggestion of a retail store in Center City came up on a recent episode of Sons of Ben: The Pod from co-host Adam Booth, Union minority owner Richard Leibovitch said he “100 percent” agreed.
“When I first joined the ownership that was the first suggestion that I had for the team,” Leibovitch said. “And I led the charge with Tim (McDermott) and we started looking at locations. We got into, you know, detailed conversations about doing exactly that. We did get sidetracked with it with a few other things but that remains to me such an obvious (thing).”
Leibovitch went on to say that he favors not just a retail presence but a place where people can gather to watch Union away games and other soccer matches.
“You know you can have parties there,” he said. “There’s so many ways of energizing the space. So I’m a huge fan where I’d love to have a bar/restaurant with a store with, you know, foosball games, soccer themed...it doesn’t even have to do just be about the Union. Let’s make it about soccer.”
Leibovitch said they have previously looked at space at the Piazza in Northern Liberties, which was where the team hosted a watch party for the 2018 U.S. Open Cup final. The idea remains very high on Leibovitch’s list of things he wants to see the team pursue.
“It’s a matter of finding right place, right time and the right partners to get it done,” he said.
Podcast co-host and Sons of Ben President Matt Gendaszek noted that Sporting Kansas City has had a presence in downtown Kansas City, Missouri despite playing outside the city in Kansas City, Kansas since relocating their offices there in 2017.
Booth, meanwhile, said it was “invigorating” to hear Leibovitch talk about the possibility.
You can listen to the full episode, which features a gripping story of a time Booth accidentally stole Leibovitch’s keys, and subscribe to the podcast on Apple podcasts or your preferred podcast provider.