As Philadelphia Union prevail, Chester awaits stadium’s windfall

    The Philadelphia Union silenced the Seattle Sounders last night, 3 to 1 in the first game in the Union’s new stadium in Chester. But the City of Chester is still waiting for its win.

    The Philadelphia Union silenced the Seattle Sounders last night, 3 to 1 in the first game in the Union’s new stadium in Chester.

    But the City of Chester is still waiting for its win.

    [AUDIO: 100627PCSOCCER1.mp3]

    Obert Burchell runs a small Jamaican jerk chicken restaurant on Route 291, not far from the new soccer stadium. On Sunday his place was empty. He says business has been dropping for two weeks.

    “Very dramatically man,” says Burchell. “All we do here is play cards. Food on the stove – nobody come in to buy.”

    Sunday marked the eighth day of a citywide curfew. The mayor of Chester imposed of state of emergency after a string of shooting deaths, and the city council voted to extend the 9 p.m. curfew for 30 days.

    But Burchell says business started plummeting before the curfew. The new stadium is a flicker of hope.

    “Everybody comes here and say, ‘OB, the stadium going to open, going to bring a lot of business,’” says Burchell. “I don’t usually open on Sundays, but because today is the first game here, I said, ‘Well, let me give it a try.’ I’m still waiting, I’m a patient man.”

    For soccer fans, Sunday was the best of times. Dozens arrived early to tailgate.

    Brian Quimby of Center City brought a vuvuzela – one of those plastic horns that has made World Cup games sound like a droning bee hive. The horns are banned from the new stadium.

    “They’re a little loud,” says Quimby. “But maybe we can get them in there and rattle the Seattle fans a little.”

    Vuvuzelas aside, PPL Park seems to have been designed for sound. The soaring roofs over the stands trap crowd noise.

    “Phila-A-Del-Phia! Phil-A-Del-Phia!”

    And you really know it when the Union scores a goal.

    Marion Gwadera wanted a team in Philadelphia ever since moving here from Poland.

    “I waited for this for 26 years, and finally we got it,” says Gwadera. “Finally we have something we can share for us. It’s no Eagles. No Phillies. It’s us – soccer fans in Philadelphia.”

    Outside the new stadium, hundreds of cars were parked on vacant lots near 3rd Street, where Elva English lives. Unlike her neighbors, she doesn’t mind the extra traffic, because the stadium could mean extra jobs, extra tax revenue, and maybe new life for her city.

    English hopes the curfew will become as permanent as the stadium–it cleaned up her street.

    “Loud music, cursing, and all kinds of mess up and down the street – you don’t hear none of that now,” says English. “You can sleep at night now. It’s wonderful.”

    The Philadelphia Union will play 13 more home games at the stadium, and there are 25 more days of the Chester curfew.

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