Jeff Parke and Michael Seamon each lived in the greater Philadelphia area for a while, so before flying out I asked each of them about Chester, where the Sounders and Union will dedicate PPL park today.
They both said the same thing: "Rough place."
They weren't kidding. Chester will host today's game while under a formally declared state of emergency due to a string of recent murders.
(Union official) DeBusschere said the city’s decision to place Chester under a state of emergency did not put a damper on the stadium’s opening, adding that the Union backed the city.
“We’re behind the city full-speed,” DeBusschere said. “The city has a great plan in place. They have great people running the city and, really, we don’t expect any hiccups with respect to us.”
DeBusschere did not directly answer a question regarding the amount of security expected at Sunday’s game, saying, “This is something we’ve been working with the city on, we don’t expect any issues.”
Thornton said, among fans, he hasn’t heard any concerns regarding the state of emergency and the opening of PPL Park.
“I haven’t heard any concerns through the message boards online and people talking about it,” Thornton said. “Everybody seems really excited to be down there. They love the position of the stadium right next to the Commodore Barry Bridge. It seems like they’re going to be able to get people down there and they’re going to have a great environment down there. It really is part of the grander scheme of trying to revitalize the waterfront and all the construction projects that they’ve been planning.”
The revitalization aspect brought a smile to several Chester residents Thursday. They haven’t had much to smile about recently, as a series of homicides forced Mayor Wendell N. Butler Jr. to enact a five-night state of emergency, which City Council then extended an additional 30 nights at its meeting Wednesday.