The happy news that tickets for the the Union’s home opener at PPL Park had sold out in five hours is surely cause for celebration for both the Union and its fans. After tremendous turnouts for the two matches at the Linc many have wondered if the new stadium is big enough to hold the team’s rabid support. Given the stadium’s location which, unlike the stadium complex in Philadelphia, is not conveniently serviced by public transportation, perhaps the more pressing question is will there be enough parking.
The issue of public transportation is a major one. Veit acknowledged in the interview with the Daily News in May that, in a survey conducted by the club, 25 percent of season ticket holders “would like to use mass transportation.” If 25 percent actually do use public transportation, that means SEPTA will have to move 4625 people by one of two means: the R2 regional rail line and buses such as the Route 113.
SEPTA told the Daily News that it would add additional cars to the R2 on game days, as well as additional buses. It makes sense to me that most people considering the public transit option would probably prefer the more direct route of taking the train—everyone knows that SEPTA buses suck. But how many cars will SEPTA need to add to the R2 line in order to handle two, three, or four thousand people on a route that runs once an hour on the weekend?
This goes without even mentioning that, according to the Daily News report, SEPTA will make the decision to add more train cars and buses on “a game-by-game basis.” If SEPTA could only open one exit from the Broad Street Line for the second Union game and the USA v Turkey match, what confidence can one have that they will add enough trains and buses?
And what about getting fans from the train station to the stadium? Veit said in the interview, “we have a plan out now with SEPTA where we will provide a shuttle service from the Chester Transportation Center that will run throughout the season and will take fans right to the front gates of the building.” But again, how many shuttle buses will it take to make sure fans get to the game on time?
Veit said in the interview that the club would be providing season ticket holders with the best route to drive to the stadium based upon their zip codes. While this seems logical, the simple flaw in the plan is that many season ticket holders are part of a group of ticket holders. For example, a friend and myself are account holders that together represent a group of ten season tickets. While both of us live in the same neighborhood, at least half of the other people in our group live all over the city. It is very unlikely that all of us will be able to meet up to make our way to the stadium together, which means the very real possibility that multiple vehicles will be taking a variety of routes to the stadium. Whether the 6000 non season ticket will be provided with a route I do not know. Whether most people will actually follow the directions provided by the club is anyone’s guess.
Once fans who have driven to the stadium actually get there they will be faced with the problem of parking. An email the club sent out to season ticket holders on Tuesday announced a parking pass plan. (Club and Premium seat accounts already have a parking pass as part of their ticket package.) For $200, founding members can purchase a pass for every remaining game in their ticket plan that will allow them to park “on the stadium footprint.” With 15 home games remaining, that works to be a little over $13 per game. Essentially, you will be assigned to a color-coded lot. You can only park close to the stadium by buying one of the passes—no cash will be accepted on gameday for these lots.
If you can’t afford one of the passes or aren’t a season ticket holder you will be able to park at one of “a number of satellite lots in close proximity to the stadium.” Complimentary shuttle buses will be available in those lots that are not within “convenient walking distance,” otherwise known as “safe walking distance” to the faint of heart.
Given the limited amount of parking near the stadium, tailgating restriction will apply. But, I don’t really care about tailgating—I’m more concerned about getting inside the stadium in time to see kickoff. Before the home opener at the Linc, the Union advised everyone to arrive early because Vice President Biden’s security arrangements were certain to cause delays at the gates. Many people didn’t get the word and thousands missed the beginning of the game.
This time it seems very likely that many people will be delayed getting to the stadium rather than inside it. Take the Union’s advice: “ARRIVE EARLY! I repeat: ARRIVE EARLY.” And be sure to tell your friends.