Monday, July 19, 2010

Last Train to Chester

Like a lot of people (OK, at least 18,000), I was excited to learn that Philadelphia had been chosen as the new expansion side for MLS back in 2008. However, like a lot of people, I was concerned about the stadium location on the Chester waterfront. Not because of safety issues, but for accessibility. Part of the fun of living in a big city is taking public transit to games, and not worrying about parking (or drinking).

Fortunately, two years later, I can safely say that taking the train to a Union game is not only doable, it is recommended. What follows is a photo essay from a murderously hot day soaked in beer, sweat and victory.

My trip started at the University City Station. During the week, this relatively new station (it opened in 1995) is a crowded, busy station, filled with commuters who work at HUP, Penn and CHOP. During the week. At lunch time on a Saturday, it's less vibrant.

Happily, 2 hours before kickoff, the R2, er, Wilmington, er Marcus Hook Train was completely filled, and about 90% of the train got of at the Chester Transportation center.

This is where the hyper-competent Union front office kicks in. Waiting for us is a fleet of shuttle buses, which will zip us through the city and drop us off a few feet from the stadium.

This side is surrounded by half-completed ramps to the bridge, but the other side...

Did I mention a bridge? The Commodore Barry looms over the stadium, and a walk by the river
reveals some stunning views:

Inside the stadium, it's just as nice. The seats are really, really close to the field, and catching an errant shot is a real possibility:

The game was tense, and tied 1-1 until almost the last second, when a Toronto player committed a handball in the penalty area. That led to this (video courtesy of my row-mate Billy):

Maybe Apple should use this video in a promotion- the iPhone gets knocked out of Billy's hand and flies a few feet away, but keeps recording the whole time and is unscathed at the end.

After the game, there is a bit of a walk back to the buses, and then a line, which seems longer that it actually is after standing in 95 degree heat for a few hours. These gentlemens' spirits did not seem dampened once on the train though, and after about 25 minutes, I'm back to where it all began.

Only two weeks until the next game.