Philadelphia Union press clips: December 19


(John George, Philadelphia Business Journal)

The Philadelphia Phillies aren't going to be the only local sports team heading to Clearwater, Fla., this winter for preseason training.

The Philadelphia Union reached a multi-year deal with the city of Clearwater Thursday night under which the soccer club will hold training camp at its Joe DiMaggio complex.

The complex is across the street from the Bright House Field facilities where the Phillies hold spring training. The Union will hold its preseason in February, while the Phillies hold spring training in late February and March.

Nick Sakiewicz, the Philadelphia Union's CEO, said the team decided to move from its previous winter training site near Orlando because its marketing rights in that region were restricted by the entry of an Orlando expansion team in Major League Soccer in 2015.

"We looked at other locations in Florida, but we able to work out a great deal with the city of Clearwater," Sakiewicz said. "The mayor and city administration were very easy to work with."

The location across from the Phillies training complex, and having Philadelphia sports fans accustomed to traveling to Clearwater in the winter, were also factors.

"We've had a great relationship with the Phillies over the years and we've done a lot of cross-promoting and co-marketing with the team," said Sakiewicz, adding that he expects the teams will work together on events in Clearwater.

Sakiewicz declined disclosing the financial terms of the deal.

A report in the Clearwater Gazette said the agreement is for three years, with two options for renewal, and calls for the Union to pay an annual rental fee of $23,000 for the complex fields. The report also said the city will establish a $148,000 capital fund that will be used for costs associated with prepping and making improvements to the sports complex.

Sakiewicz said the Union will also work with the city on programs such as soccer camps and clinics and charitable fundraising.