The Philadelphia Union Stadium is up and running but a related – and paid for – commercial development is still not begun.
The new soccer stadium in Chester is proving its worth by drawing crowds to Philadelphia Union games, but Delaware County is still waiting for the second half of the ambitious project. The original plans for the stadium include a nearby retail and housing complex that has not begun.
To build the stadium and accompanying residential and retail units, Delaware County issued a $30 million bond, to be repaid largely by gambling tax revenues collected from the nearby Harrah’s casino. Sensing that might not be enough, council members last week approved a one-percent hike in the hotel tax, 90 percent of which will go toward settling the stadium debt.
Councilman Andy Lewis voted against the tax hike, just as he voted against the stadium itself. He says the county will have been snookered if the retail complex isn’t built soon.
“The owners of the team pay $1 a year for the stadium – they get all naming rights, all the ticket sales, all the concessions. They basically have all the upside,” Lewis says. “And the only upside that we would have is additional tax revenues. The only piece where we have a chance to get some money back is if and when that mixed-use development is built.”
Lewis does not believe any work toward building retail units has begun on the site. A spokesperson for the developer – Buccini Pollin Group – says they’re focusing on constructing an off-ramp from the Commodore Barry Bridge.