Why the Philadelphia Union Should Bus Main Line Kids to Chester for Soccer Camp

A true community spirit.

Chester Democrats started a Revolutionary War last week against the Philadelphia Union. They proposed a new tax of 10 percent on Philadelphia Union tickets and 20 percent on PPL Park stadium parking spots.

Apparently, suburbanite, Main Line soccer fans haven’t had the economic clout Chester hoped for. Still, it doesn’t take an Ivy League education to understand that raising taxes won’t fix Chester’s economy. Chester Democrats still haven’t figured that out.

Union big-wigs have certainly gotten bang for their buck. The estimated $120 million PPL Park is largely tax-exempt, thanks to lawmakers dubbing Chester a Keystone Opportunity Zone. But those tax breaks are set to end in 2013.

So Chester is right to demand more from the Philadelphia Union, one of the rare successful businesses in a struggling city. The Union should work harder to build lasting relationships with Chester, not Chester County. Last month, the Union hosted a kick-off event for its Philadelphia Union Foundation, which aims to do just that. They’ve linked with Widener University and other area organizations to help use soccer to change Chester.

But it won’t start this summer. “This summer, experience something you’ll never forget,” begins that YouTube clip for Union summer soccer camps. Each of the 10 soccer camps the Union offers this summer will be held in Malvern, Bryn Mawr, Fort Washington, Plymouth Meeting, Wayne and Bryn Athyn.

So Philly’s suburban kids can get their autographed Union soccer ball, just not the kids who actually live in the same town where the home team plays.

Why aren’t they having camps in Chester? Why aren’t soccer fans from the Main Line and Chester kids playing in soccer camps together? More importantly, why aren’t Union executives mentoring Chester students?

Business leaders and elite school administrators can—and should—be doing more to help their communities. But prep schools and businesses have an obligation to offer opportunities to struggling minorities. Plus, investing in the community builds a stronger environment for businesses and schools.

I’m not saying Chester kids deserve a free ride to a Union summer camp on the Main Line. Actually, I think it’d be better to ship the Main Line kids into Chester for a week.

Chester County kids playing in Chester? Now that’d be a beautiful game I’d pay to watch. And, who knows, it may even build a more perfect Union.