Every offseason Philadelphia Union fans hope the team finally busts open the checkbook. Unfortunately, the fans are usually just given developmental signings and random sponsorships. With an aging stadium and philosophy, it begs the question, does the Union office have their priorities straight?
Now, this should go without saying, any annoyance that comes from ownership, whether a partnership or lack of a signing, is not to blame on the social media manager. We see way too much berating on social media of innocent media managers just doing their jobs.
Now, Union fans have a right to be annoyed at the direction of the club.
Are the Union’s Priorities Correct?
Now, a company or organization’s priorities are subjective. The Philadelphia Union is a business that needs to make money and profit. As an MLS team, their income mostly relies on the state of the team. As a team at the bottom of the league in spending, but around the top in success over the last 4 years, business is likely going well. However, it seems their priorities do not align with the fan’s visions and hopes.
With their success, the Union can post one of the best % of attendance in the league. Of course, that number doesn’t break records, given the Union’s home of Subau Park is on the smaller side. Fitting just around 18,500 a game. However, this does lead to the first questioning of the Union’s priorities. Subaru Park was created to have the possibility to be expanded upon. Unfortunately, there has been no plan or promise that upgrades will come to the Union’s home pitch.
Subaru Park, built in 2010, is already starting to feel its age. While it is hard to find a better view than on the river end in MLS, the stadium is aging rapidly. With the club posting constant sellouts, the tight concourse feels as if it gets tighter by the week. With other MLS teams getting nicer and nicer stadiums, it seems the Union is falling behind, a pattern that shows itself more than in terms of stadiums.
Along with no upgrades to the concourse itself, Subaru Park has been plagued with unanswered parking issues. There are still unpaved parking lots, and the biggest parking lot the stadium had was just taken out by the new WSFS complex. At night, there are few lights from the stadium to the deep corners of the lots. These all are issues that have plagued the atmosphere at Subaru Park for years. Yet still, it seems little to nothing is being done to fix it.
The Union did just build a massive complex of fields right next to Subaru Park, the WSFS Bank Sportsplex. Now, this complex is great for the community and the growth of the sport in the area. Housing multiple fields and an indoor facility. However, it seems this sportsplex was the Union’s top priority, given the lack of money reinvested into the team and the stadium’s current facilities.
While possibly not directly connected, Union season ticket holders saw an increase in their season ticket pricing. Something Union fans were mostly not too happy about. Understandably so.
Now, it is one thing for the Union to increase the season ticket prices and reinvest in the stadium and the overall atmosphere. It is another to increase it and not improve anything for the fans who will be there almost every game. In 2023, the season ticket member gift was a very underwhelming T-shirt. Many fans didn’t even receive the normal scarf or package that usually comes with the tickets. To make matters worse, the shirts were unstocked all season until the final 2 weeks.
So far, the only update to the grounds we have seen has been a giant sign that reads “DELCO” as a part of the Union’s new partnership with Visit Delco. So, for fans hoping to see a new star transfer signing, unfortunately, you will just be met with DELCO. When it comes to priorities, the fans always have to be number 1. Raising prices while not adding to the stadium or showing thoughtful appreciation to the season ticket members, is not a great look at all.
Reinvestment on the Filed Is Still Not a Priority
This is a topic that will be talked about in Union circles until it is changed. That is the Union’s spending in the transfer market. We all get it by now. The Union spends at the bottom of the league, signing project players from never-before-heard-of clubs. They get to a semifinal of a competition and lose in a very Union way. Now, for the third straight season, the Union is running it back with the same team and philosophy. Fans are growing rightfully concerned.
The landscape of MLS has changed, Lionel Messi’s arrival assured that. Teams who historically shied away from spending big money are signing 10+ million-dollar players. Other teams are making exciting signings and the Union just signed a developmental project that will play half of the Union 2 games and never be seen again.
It is a shtick Union fans are becoming tired of. After a quiet offseason, the Union now heads into another busy season shorthanded and lacking star power.
Fans should be the number 1 priority. The way things have been in recent times, it feels the Union’s front office is just capitalizing on the current appeal of the team with the hope the fans keep coming back. However, if the Union doesn’t start adding to their trophy case, fans will only stick around for so long with the rising prices and lack of upgrades.
Featured Image: Philadelphia Union