Though a report indicated that it could shutter the club’s operations, Philadelphia Union is expected to keep Bethlehem Steel FC for 2018, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
It was reported by Sports Illustrated on Tuesday that Union could end operations for Steel–the USL club it owns–and begin an affiliation with the Rochester Rhinos. However, The Philadelphia Inquirer later reported that the Union plan to continue Steel’s operations for 2018.
Steel began play in 2016 and, while the Union acknowledged that it has considered alternatives, it is expected that Steel will return to the USL next year. More from The Philadelphia Enquirer:
But it doesn’t seem that Bethlehem Steel is going anywhere. A source told the Inquirer and Daily News that the Union plan to keep Steel in place next year. Steel’s supporters club, the East End Army, posted a statement that someone in Steel’s front office had told the fan group that “next season the club will remain in Bethlehem.”
That doesn’t mean the Union haven’t thought about doing things differently.
The team acknowledged on Wednesday that it has considered alternative homes for Steel. That includes having “spoken to multiple teams in MLS and the USL on different options,” according to the team statement.
Below is a statement from the Philadelphia Union in response to last night’s USL rumors. pic.twitter.com/malG3KqeBb
— Bethlehem Steel FC (@BSteelFC) October 18, 2017
Long term, it is believed that the Union would like to secure a soccer-specific stadium for Steel in the Lehigh Valley region. The USL club plays at Lehigh University’s Goodman Stadium, a facility that comes in far above Division II standards in terms of seating capacity, but moving Steel into a new soccer-specific venue could give the Union the ability to improve amenities while providing a greater control over scheduling (Steel shares Goodman Stadium with some of the university’s athletic programs). For 2017, Steel averaged 3,052 fans per game at Goodman Stadium.
Image courtesy USL and Bethlehem Steel.