Thursday, February 28, 2008

Dark Horse catches Gold and Blue Flu

By Steven Lienert
The Phanatic Magazine

The Dark Horse Cafe got an unexpected influx of Happy Hour bar-hoppers on Thursday afternoon.

That's where the Sons of Ben -- Philadelphia's soccer fans -- took their after-news conference party.

They were at the news conference in Chester in droves -- all wearing blue and gold (the city's colors), all singing and chanting -- as Major League Soccer officials announced that Philadelphia will get an MLS franchise starting in 2010.

But that didn't stop a bunch of SoBs from treating it as if Philly had just won an MLS Cup.

"We are thrilled to welcome Philadelphia to Major League Soccer," MLS Commissioner Dan Garber said. "Philadelphia brings in one of the most passionate sports markets in the country and provides a natural rivalry with the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United."

Especially since there was a supporters' group already in place.

The Philadelphia club will be owned by iStar Financial CEO Jay Sugarman, Swarthmore Group Chairman James Nevels, Philadelphia attorney William Doran, veteran sports executive Nick Sakiewicz and Christopher and Robert Buccini, founding partners of The Buccini/Pollin Group.
The team will play in a new 20,000-seat stadium in Chester, which the government hopes wil stimulate economic growth in the area.

"Major League Soccer is truly a league with the wind behind its sail," Sugarman said. "I am very excited to join the distinguished list of existing MLS owners and to help guide the League's growth into one of America's great sports cities. We're going to build a first-class organization on and off the field and we will create a development that makes the community proud."

Despite not having a name, colors, or a logo, there are 2,500 fans already signed up on the season-ticket waiting list and, as of Thursday, a new web site has been launched :

The first post on the message board said it all.

"It's about time," a guy named Lenn Dogs posted. "Hopefully the passion of the Philly sports fans will carry over to the MLS."

The Sons of Ben would argue that it already has.

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