Chester: Major League town
I repeat. Chester is going to be a Major League town.
Roll that one around on your tongue for awhile. Chester. Major League.
It’s been awhile since the downtrodden city hard on the Delaware River has been able to make that claim.
That is about to end.
Maybe as soon as 2010, sports sections all across the nation, and indeed the globe, will carry a new dateline.
That’s because the 16th franchise of Major League Soccer is going to play its games in the shadow of the Commodore Barry Bridge.
That’s right. Beckham and Posh are coming to Chester.
What has been widely assumed is likely to be cemented next week. Major League Soccer officials will travel to the city of Chester to announce they have awarded their latest expansion franchise to a group of investors that is planning to build a stadium just south of the Commodore Barry Bridge.
The months-in-the-making project became pretty much a lock two weeks ago when the state approved a move to kick in $47 million toward the $115 million stadium project. Delaware County already was on board. They’re putting up $30 million, in exchange for owning the land and the stadium, which they will run through a sports authority.
On Thursday, the final piece of the puzzle was put in place when the Delaware River Port Authority board approved $10 million in funding, which is actually part of the $47 million state package announced by Gov. Ed Rendell and Sen. Dominic Pileggi at a press conference at the nearby Wharf at Rivertown, next door to the proposed stadium site.
It is hard to explain the impact of this proposal. The city is not just getting an 18,500-seat stadium. And a Major League Soccer franchise.
The stadium is part of a $500 million development along the Chester waterfront that will include an expo center, retail outlets, shops, restaurants and residences.
Word is that all the parties involved likely will once again make their way to the city for the official announcement next week. It has long been believed that an announcent was a matter of when, not if. This morning a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer says it looks like Thursday, Feb. 28.
I suppose it would be selfish of me at this point to delay the announcement one day.
They could do it on Feb. 29, Leap Day. That would seem appropriate.
It will be a giant leap forward for Chester and Delaware County.