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Behind the MLS Ambition Rankings: Philadelphia Union


How much money has your team spent in the past five years on youth development? How much in the past year?

We have spent in excess of $7 million over the past five years (through 2015) on youth development with the majority of the spending in the past three years when we changed to a full time academy system from a part time ‘club and country’ format.  We are currently averaging a spend of approximately $2.2 million per year on the youth academy and expect that number to increase going forward since in the fall of 2015 we added U-15, U-13 and U-12 teams to the previously existing U-18, U-16 and U-14 teams. 

Further, the addition of a 100% owned-and-operated USL club to our youth development structure will add over $1 million per year to our youth development investment going forward.

How many homegrown players have you signed? How many have played in MLS league games for your first team?

Three and all three have played in MLS league games.

Where does your first team train? Did you build the training facility yourself? If so, how much did it cost?

During 2016 our first team will train in our new state-of-the-art training center next to Talen Energy Stadium. Prior to the 2015 season, we completed the construction of two full-sized grass fields next to Talen Energy Stadium and coming in March of 2016 will be the opening of a new team-specific training facility, which will include locker room, weight room, training area, hydro spas, coaches offices, team film room, player lounge, cafeteria, etc. Total cost for the entire training center is approximately $14 million.

What’s your philosophy on the use of technology in your training and preparation for matches?  

Our club's primary use of technology is on the continued development of all of our athletes at all levels–including academy and USL. Through the use of video sharing and tagging, as well as physical tracking, players and coaches receive feedback on both the mental and physical sides of the game. The data points retrieved from this technology can aid in making decisions on training loads, educating athletes on past decisions in games, and guiding technical staff on how the team should evolve.

Who pays to play on your youth teams? And how much do they pay?

None of the participants pay to play on our youth teams.

Do you have a model for integrating your academy with the first team? How closely do your academy teams resemble the way the first team trains and plays?

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We have a fully integrated model from our youth academy up through our new USL team, Bethlehem Steel, to our first team. 

How many season-ticket holders do you have? How many did you have in 2015?

Approximately 10,000 Full Season Equivalents

Who is your jersey sponsor? What’s your total income on sponsorships this season?

Bimbo.  Sponsorship revenue is in excess of $9 million and has grown every year since inception.

Local TV deal: How many of your games this season are shown on local television? How much is your local TV deal worth per season?

All games not broadcast nationally are broadcast locally.

Local radio deal: How many of your games this season are broadcast on local radio? In English? In other languages?

We do not broadcast our games on radio; however we host a 90-minute weekly radio show produced in Philadelphia’s most popular sports bar.

How many front-office employees does your team have? How many have you added or subtracted in the past year?

We have approximately 50 full-time front office employees (not including technical staff or USL dedicated employees). We have added a net of one position this year and have three open positions we are actively recruiting for (not including technical staff or USL)

Have you hired any additional technical staff over the past year to reduce doubling-up roles? Are you planning on expanding your technical staff in the near future?

In the Fall of 2015 we hired a Sporting Director, Earnie Stewart, who is in charge of all technical aspects of the organization including the First team, USL team and Academy. We have also added a technical staff for the USL team who at times will support the first team and added several individuals in our new sports performance division who will support First team, USL and Academy.