Soccer's surging popularity in Philly spurs creation of new fields for youth, adult teams

Pat Loeb
July 17, 2019 - 4:42 pm
Philadelphia is getting 17 new soccer pitches. City officials say the $3.5 million project will bring local facilities in line with local enthusiasm for the sport.

Pat Loeb/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) —  Philadelphia is getting 17 new soccer pitches, and city officials say the $3.5 million project will bring local facilities in line with local enthusiasm for the sport. 

12-year-old Izel Perez plays for Palumbo Soccer Club in South Philadelphia, but he can't play at Palumbo. 

"My field, it broke down and it was a lot of dirt and mud. It wasn't really fit to play and they told us we had to move somewhere else, so we had to play in New Jersey in a place called the Kroc Center," Perez said.

He was on hand for the announcement that the city was building 15 mini pitches for youth soccer and two new regulation fields.

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"It was really fun playing in Philadelphia and it's nice to have new fields that we'll be able to play in, in the future," Perez said.

Soccer has a long history in Philadelphia, according to Chris Branscome of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer, and he says it's more popular than ever.

"There's never been a greater time to be a soccer fan or soccer player in this city than right now," Branscome said.

The league, along with the Philadelphia Union, is providing a chunk of the money. 

The rest is coming from bonds issued by the city's Rebuild program. The effort is expected to take five years to complete.