Evolution of Philadelphia Union: Part 1

There have been so many key moments in the
development of Philadelphia Union from a dream to sweet reality as the
16th franchise in Major League Soccer.

There
have been so many key meetings and so many key milestones. Let’s take a
look back at a timeline of big moments in the ongoing evolution of
Philadelphia Union:

February 28, 2008:
None of the following dates would be meaningful for Philadelphia Union
fans if this date didn’t kick everything off. At Turbine Hall in
Chester, PA, MLS Commissioner Don Garber officially introduced the
league’s 16th club at 2:10 p.m. ET. There wasn’t a name at the time,
but that didn’t matter. A team was on the way.

 
(L-R) Nick Sakiewicz, Rob Buccini, Commissioner Garber & Jay Sugarman 
 
The fans, many of whom
were part of the Sons of Ben, gathered and celebrated as the string
band played and chants erupted. Wow, was this a day to remember.

“This
is a day to celebrate after all of the hard work that so many people
put into this project,” Nick Sakiewicz, Philadelphia Union CEO &
Operating Partner, told the assembled media after the landmark
announcement. “From the very beginning, this ownership group has had
one goal and that's to bring a team to this area. There is so much
history with soccer in this region and so much passion as well. Now,
we'll work toward putting together a first-class team which can bring
some trophies home.”

This was the
start of a string of events that would lead up to First Kick on March
25, 2010, over two years after the expansion announcement.

September 2, 2008:
General contractor and construction manager T.N. Ward, based in
Ardmore, PA., was selected by Keystone Sports and Entertainment,
Philadelphia Union's ownership group, to build its $120 million stadium
in Chester, PA.

“In choosing
T.N. Ward, we not only picked a great builder, but also held true to
our commitment of staying local and reinvesting in our community,”
Sakiewicz said. “At the end of a long and rigorous process that
included more than 20 companies, we went with the home team. There were
a number of well-qualified companies but T.N. Ward’s proposal rose to
the top. We were impressed by T.N. Ward’s credentials and track record
of outstanding projects. For them, this is going to be a groundbreaking
project in the truest sense of the word.”

 
TN Ward is constructing PPL Park, set to open June 27th for MLS play
 
October 17, 2008:
Two regional health care leaders joined forces to sign a multi-year
agreement with the franchise, becoming the first “Keystone Founding
Partner” and creating a unique partnership that expands well beyond the
new 18,500-seat waterfront stadium. Crozer-Keystone Health System and
Premier Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Associates, LTD. teamed up to
create a dynamic ‘Chester-to-Chester’ partnership with Philadelphia
Union that will benefit the community and entire region.

December 1, 2008:
Groundbreaking ceremonies for PPL Park in the historic City of
Chester initiated the construction of Philadelphia Union's home
stadium. As part of the ceremonies, Panasonic was announced as the
club's second "Keystone Founding Partner," an important partnership for
providing fans with a world-class guest experience.

“The
groundbreaking of this new, first-class soccer stadium (the ninth such
stadium in MLS after Red Bull Arena opens as the eighth this month) is
a historic moment for the City of Chester and soccer fans in the United
States,” Garber said after the groundbreaking ceremony. “Philadelphia
is one of the most passionate sports markets in the country and we are
excited that they will be joining the league in 2010.”

 
The Sons of Ben sang in the background at PPL Park's groundbreaking
 
May 11, 2009:
Philadelphia Union was officially unveiled on this day as the name of
the league’s 16th franchise by Mayor Michael Nutter, with City Hall
serving as an appropriately historic backdrop for the momentous
announcement. The region's newest professional sports team
simultaneously revealed its logo and colors as the countdown to First
Kick continued.

“This is a special
day for our devoted fan base and the people of the Greater Philadelphia
Region,” Philadelphia Union Chairman Jay Sugarman said that day. “We're
incredibly fortunate to have fans who understand the power of loyalty
and unity, and our team identity draws its inspiration from them and
from the importance these qualities have played in the history of
Philadelphia.”

 
Philadelphia Union's name and crest were established outside of City Hall
Union references the
original Thirteen Colonies, which established the foundation of the
United States of America. The clubs colors wer unveiled as navy blue
and gold, symbolizing the uniforms of the American Continental Army,
accented by the lighter shade of blue found in the Philadelphia Flag.
The primary symbol of a rattlesnake is derived from Ben Franklin's
political cartoons and was featured in multiple editions of the
Pennsylvania Gazette during the 1750s. The rattlesnake was utilized to
emphasize the necessity of colonial unity and serve as a reminder of
the danger of disunity. Franklin's rattlesnake gained enormous
popularity and evolved into a primary symbol of the American
Revolution.

 
A brand was officially born.

May 29, 2009:
Philadelphia Union announced Peter Nowak as the club's first ever Team
Manager. Nowak has won MLS Cups as both player and coach, the only
individual to have accomplished the feat in league history. A captain
of the Polish National team for three years, Nowak previously served a
dual role as Head Coach of the Under-23 U.S. Men's National Team and
Assistant to Bob Bradley with the full national team. Nowak became
responsible for all facets of the club's training and on-field
performance and embarked on the mission of building a roster from
scratch.

 
Nowak left the USMNT to become Philadelphia Union's Team Manager
“I am extremely grateful
for my time with U.S. Soccer, but the chance to join an organization
that is in the process of defining its identity was an opportunity I
could not turn down,” Nowak said. “Our supporters are already notorious
for their passion and it is our mission to put a team on the field that
is worthy of their loyalty. Our responsibility is to build a club that
leaves everything on the field and represents the Philadelphia region
proudly.”
 
Stay tuned for Part 2 of Philadelphia Union's evolution in the coming days. Just think, all this before a single player!