Chester mayor: We’re not seeing good return on PPL Park

philadelphia-unionAfter five years, it’s clear that PPL Park, home of MLS’s Philadelphia Union, is a draw on the business front — but local leaders want to see more economic commitment from the team’s owners.

Philadelphia Union is a steady draw, and fans from throughout the region attend games there. But it’s never delivered on the economic-development promises made by former Gov. Ed Rendell, who led the charge for $47 million in state funding. The stadium, he said, would lead to more development in a very economically depressed area.

But it’s not worked out that way: fans come and go to the stadium, but there’s not much spending outside it, and the city’s relationship with team ownership has been strained. Part of that is due to the deal struck when the stadium was built (it’s off the rolls, paying $150,000 in lieu of property taxes) From

Chester Mayor John Linder says the park and its owners have not done enough to boost the city’s economy or residents. “These are big people with big ties, and they should be influencing corporations to come and build,” he said Friday….

When Nick Sakiewicz envisioned a home for the team, he looked at locations across the country. He settled on Chester, bypassing cities including Philadelphia and Portland, Ore., because he “saw this was a great place to be.”

“Revitalizing the city isn’t what we ever promised,” said Sakiewicz, the team’s chief executive and operating partner. “One business doesn’t fix decades of economic mismanagement in a city.”

Linder has been in the center of the disagreements with Philadelphia Union. He won’t be a factor anymore, as he was defeated in the Democratic primary for mayor. The winner, as well as his Republican opponent, both promise to initiate better relations with the team — a major employer in Chester.

Image of PPL Park via, under Creative Commons license.

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August Publications