Farrell Stadium is accustomed to hosting West Chester football games, soccer games, band events, intramural sports and even Philadelphia Eagles training camp more than 15 years ago. But starting in April, a new team will call Farrell Stadium home this year – the Philadelphia Independence.The Philadelphia Independence is one of the two newest expansion teams playing in the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) League. Headquartered in San Francisco, Women’s Professional Soccer is the world’s premier soccer league for women, with eight teams across the United States featuring the best players from around the world.
WPS completed its inaugural season in August 2009 as Sky Blue FC of New Jersey became the first-ever WPS Champions. In 2010, eight teams will each play 24-game schedules from April 10-Sept. 12, including six original WPS teams – Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, FC Gold Pride (Bay Area), Saint Louis Athletica, Sky Blue FC (NJ/NY) and Washington Freedom – and two expansion teams, the Atlanta Beat and Philadelphia Independence.
According to Independence Owner/CEO David Halstead on the team’s Web site, “During the past few months we have worked hard to deliver to Philly a roster of exceptional soccer players that fans are proud to support, a youth program that delivers connectivity to every youth athlete in the area, a responsive and affordable outreach and ticketing program and now through this partnership with West Chester University, a playing venue that gives 7,500 screaming fans a terrific game day experience. This stadium agreement completes our road ahead toward the 2010 season’s start. Now we have to fill the seats with fans eager to welcome our great players to the city.”
“In addition to its convenient location, the great thing about this venue for the Independence fan,” General Manager Terry Foley said on the team’s Web site, “Is that every seat is close to the field, with no line of sight obstructions. All the essentials for a great fan experience are here – fan and kids club areas surrounding the stadium, hospitality and VIP tents and cabanas so close to the action the players are easily heard, convenient parking, merchandise vendors, concessions and restroom facilities. There is reserved seating for 7,500 with 90 percent of the seats between the 18-yard lines.
Having this type of publicity will only help the University. The ability to see professional soccer played right in its backyard will enhance the sport in this area.
“The University is proud to host the Philadelphia Independence and women’s professional soccer,” WCU Athletic Director Dr. Ed Matejkovic said on the Independence’s Web site. “Our institution is committed to academic and athletic excellence, and to strong principles that foster the growth of opportunities for our youth, our community, and for women’s sports. WCU welcomes the opportunity to be part of the Independence and will do everything it can to support the needs of the team and its fans on and off the field.”
The Philadelphia Independence will open their season on April 11 at Farrell Stadium against the Atlanta Beat. Heather Mitts and the rest of the Independence will kick off their season at 6 p.m.
West Chester University students can get tickets for the game for a discounted price of $10.00 using their student ID.
L.J. Harrell is a fourth-year student majoring in marketing. He can be reached at LH639694@wcupa.edu.