One week, four events.
That will be what PPL Park can boast following Saturday’s Major League Soccer match between the Philadelphia Union and Vancouver Whitecaps (7 p.m., purchase tickets). Predominantly the home of Union soccer first and foremost, PPL Park, by design, has always been fashioned as a multi-purpose arena. This past week with a weekend of college rugby and a pair of international soccer friendlies performing as tune-ups to the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Brazil, PPL Park served host to scores of fans both domestic and international, highlighted with Tuesday night’s Greece-Nigeria match, which found a pro-Greek crowd of 10,131 enjoying not just the match but a pair of festivals held on the Park’s Toyota Plaza both pre and postgame.
The two days of the annual Collegiate Rugby Championships – which returned to PPL Park for a third straight year – found 21,374 with tickets to watch this year’s champion California, vie and win the annual title against Pennsylvania school, Kutztown.
"We are thrilled that PPL Park has become a destination for fans across a variety of events and throughout the world. With more than 55,000 people coming through the turnstiles over just a single week, PPL Park has demonstrated the diversity of events and what a special place it is along the Delaware River," said Union CEO and operating partner Nick Sakiewicz. "When we set out to build this facility, we had the vision that it would not only showcase Philadelphia Union soccer, but multiple sporting and entertainment events in a world class fashion. PPL Park has established itself as a premier destination known for great events, breath taking waterfront views, outstanding customer service and creating life long memories.”
PPL Park and the Union expect over 55,000 spectators will walk through the stadium gates after Saturday’s match – a record for the nearly four-year old complex nestled on the Chester waterfront. Friday’s international friendly between Costa Rica-Ireland (8 p.m., purchase tickets) is rapidly approaching similar numbers as Tuesday’s game with the game hosting another FIFA World Cup finalist in Costa Rica in addition to one of MLS’ hottest stars in Los Angeles Galaxy forward Robbie Keane, the captain of Ireland’s national team.
It takes a lot of manpower and proper planning to ensure each event is a success from top to the bottom. According to Global Spectrum, 169 workers were used tasked with pre, game day and postgame responsibilities. That figure does not include the front office of the Philadelphia Union, CSC staff and other outside consultants tasked with working these events.
The biggest responsibility is ensuring the field itself is ready to handle the rigors of top competition. That priority is overseen by PPL and Union field manager John Torres, who says the preparation for a week like this one happens months in advance.
“I have to know what events are going on the field as far as [daily Union] training, and as far as any kind of [other] events. As long as I know what’s going on the field then I can prepare myself for what we need to do. Cultural practices for turf management is a big key, so aerating, seeding, watering, fertilizing, all that…I need to try to get the field as strong as possible, as dense as possible. So that’s fertilizing, that’s throwing down additional seed, making sure that all the wear and tear areas are well maintained which is mainly the goal mouths down the middle of the field. To be honest, during that week there is really not too much I can do other then try to keep it clean and keep it mowed.”
Many more events are slated to come through the gates at PPL Park over the course of this year including the arena’s first concert on July 11. For more information on events, or how you can host an event at PPL Park, visit //www.philadelphiaunion.com/ppl-park/about