CHESTER, Pa. — A $55 million project that will transform parking areas near Subaru Park into a multi-sport complex was unveiled by the Philadelphia Union here on Tuesday afternoon.
Known as the WSFS Bank Sportsplex, the new facility will expand the existing fields on the campus from the two unlit grass training fields to seven lit outdoor grass and turf fields and include a 100,000-square-foot fieldhouse with indoor turf field and two full-sized indoor courts. There will also be a 20,000-square-foot indoor performance center with professional weight room and sprint track.
As part of the new development near the Delaware River waterfront, the Philadelphia Union Academy and the affiliated YSC Academy school will be relocating to Chester from Wayne. The school will open in the Union Power Plant building (aka The Wharf) next fall.
“The announcement of WSFS Bank Sportsplex is the beginning of an important next chapter for the Philadelphia Union and the growth and development of the Chester Waterfront,” said Tim McDermott, Philadelphia Union President.
The loss of parking will be made up for on other areas of the campus and surrounding areas they are acquiring, according to McDermott. The Sons of Ben supporters group will be moving their tailgate area from Lot B to Reaney Street.
McDermott said there are more announcements to come related to campus and waterfront development and mentioned that he envisions Reaney Street becoming more of a hub of game day activity, likening it to Ravens Walk in Baltimore.
The 32-acre complex will break ground this winter. The outdoor fields — the renderings show four grass and three turf fields — will open next August. The indoor facility is projected to open in June 2024. McDermott said the facility will serve as a training site for the 2026 FIFA World Cup and that 365 hours of time at the facility will be donated to the community each year.
“I’m sure that the sky has been raining tears of joy and I am too,” Chester City Councilman William Morgan said. “This is something that most certainly will be a resource to our community, to Chester High students, to all of the youth here in the city of Chester and in Delaware County.”
Delaware County Council chair Dr. Monica Taylor said she was excited by Tuesday’s announcement both as a fan of the team and for what it will mean for the county.
“It’s just so exciting,” Taylor said. “It will create jobs and spark tourism to our area like you’ve never seen. It’s going to inject millions of dollars into our Chester community and our Delaware County community. We know that when one business succeeds so do other businesses in the area. As sports groups and spectators visit this new sports complex, many will stay at our local hotels in Delaware County, enjoy some of our great local restaurants, visit convenience stores and delis and fill up their gas tanks. It sparks so much economic growth for our community as a whole.”
Taylor added that the project is “an important investment in our youth.”
Dr. Nooha Ahmed-Lee, YSC Academy head of school, said the move of the school and academy will allow them to further align soccer with academics.
“You will have kids who are looking across the field at first team players who are training and Union II, players who are training,” Ahmed-Lee said. “It’s very timely I think because we started the school 10 years ago, it’s been a huge proof of concept — we have all of our college players, first team players — so now it makes sense to have it all under one concept.”
The move to the waterfront will increase the school’s footprint by 50 percent, Ahmed-Lee said. The independent school — the only one of its kind around MLS — educates local soccer players in middle and high schools. It is currently located in office space across the street from YSC Sports, where academy players train as part of their daily school schedule.
WSFS Bank Sportsplex will bring all of that to one location near the stadium in Chester.