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Union: PPL Park to be formally announced, youngsters, and uncertainty

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Breton Bonnette

PPL Park will be official at noon today as the team’s front office and PPL officials will hold a press conference to announce a $20 million, 10-year stadium naming-rights deal. So it looks like our “unofficial nickname” of the Lighthouse will formally go into effect starting at high noon today. From reading Jeff Gammage’s article on the logistics in the Inquirer, we can say that Nick Sakiewicz and Tom Veit definitely did their due diligence in this regard and almost $2 million/year guaranteed is most certainly a welcomed income stream to think about as the Union get set to kick off their first years in Philadelphia. More surprisingly, Gammage states that officials with PPL “met with the Sons of Ben fan club”. Not sure what those talks would have entailed but it just goes to show you how crucial the supporters will be to this growing club and soccer in this city.  Now if only all the supporter groups in the country could come together to help make nice between the owners and the players so we can get on with this season already.

– I wanted to do a review of sorts on how the youngsters have been getting on in training camp and I will at some point but for right now, let’s look at it on a case-by-case basis and what others have said. Charlie Cuttone’s piece on Jack McInerney for Philly Soccer News certainly gives us a perspective on their transition. MacInerney describes it as “an overwhelming experience”, an opinion that I’m sure resonates with 19-year old Danny Mwanga and and 18-year old Amobi Okugo. Word is, however, and in each unofficial match report we receive, these youngsters have been holding their own. McInerney and Okugo’s extensive international experience with the US youth squads certainly helps with the transition but nothing compares to a big-guy like Shavar Thomas or Danny Califf breathing down your neck in training every day. Almost six weeks ago now, we asked what your expectations of the youngsters would be. You replied that Mwanga would start, bagging 5-9 goals in his rookie year, while he would share the most playing time for a rookie with 24-year old Toni Stahl. After the first three preseason games, would you want to revise those predictions? 

– In case you missed it, single-game tickets for the first two home games at the Linc will go on sale next Wednesday, March 3rd at 10:00AM. Any early attendance estimates for the first home game vs. DC United?

– It’s hard to ignore now. As the twice-extended CBA talks come down to the final hour, Union fans are left wondering what will happen if there is a strike or lockout. ASN Philly can safely say, we don’t know. It would be a blow to the momentum and fanfare of the Union’s inaugural season that’s for sure, but how big of a blow? Pretty big predictably, about 10,000 or more disappointed season ticket holders left wondering simply, why us, in our year to join the league? It’s a bit hard to fathom both the owners and the players union assuming that any sort of lockout or strike would be a productive idea. If that’s the case, they have a heightened and misguided thought or two about soccer’s status in this country. It’s always much easier to be pessimistic in these situations but for Union fans, you’re talking about a 24 month plus wait for a team to call their own. We can only wait and hope for the best. Get it done people…

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