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Villanova set to meet Delaware at PPL Park
For one game next fall, Villanova football will have a new home.
Whether the Wildcats’ one-night-only trip south on the Blue Route becomes a more consistent commute, well, that has yet to be determined.
Villanova will host the University of Delaware Nov. 19 at PPL Park — the home of Major League Soccer’s Philadelphia Union. The university’s athletic department and a Union official confirmed the agreement.
It had been rumored for some time that Villanova was considering relocating the home portion of its football schedule to the 18,500-seat PPL Park. (The program also is weighing its options for a move from NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision to the Football Bowl Subdivision, formerly Division 1-A, though nothing has been decided.) Villanova Stadium, located on the university’s Lancaster Avenue campus in Radnor Township, has a 12,500-seat capacity.
Union CEO Nick Sakiewicz told the Daily Times that the soccer club and the university agreed to a one-year, one-game pact. Both sides are open to increasing the number of Villanova games hosted by the Chester-based stadium in the near future.
“Even if they don’t go (I-A) and get bigger opponents, we’re their partner. We want to form a partnership with Villanova University to make PPL Park their home,” Sakiewicz said. “… We’ll play more games. We’ll play as many games as Villanova desires. It doesn’t matter to us. We have confidence in our groundskeepers.”
PPL Park earlier this month hosted a three-day rugby tournament. Fans and team officials feared the tournament would leave the turf at the stadium a ragged mess for Union home games. The facilities held up so well, however, that officials from the USA Sevens Collegiate Rugby Championship re-upped with the Union in order to host the 2012 tournament at PPL Park, as well.
The Union will not have to harbor such groundskeeping reservations with Villanova, though, as its date with regional rival Delaware culminates both teams’ regular seasons. And by Nov. 19, the Union’s slate at PPL Park also will have run its course.
Scheduling, Sakiewicz said, will not deter the Union or Villanova from making a more-detailed agreement for future seasons.
“We have a plan in place so that, if the game is played in September or November, it doesn’t matter to us. We’ll play more games,” Sakiewicz said. “… We’ll do this game with an eye toward next year and see where this takes us. We’re absolutely open for business with them. We think the world of them. We think the field held up marvelously after rugby and we think it’ll be the same for American football.”
The move to PPL Park, at least for this game, makes sense for the yearly meeting between Villanova and Delaware. It’s a more central location for both fanbases and gives the schools more seats to sell. Villanova and Delaware have played once each season since 1988.
“This gives us the opportunity to move this great rivalry game to a larger stage,” Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro said in a statement. “PPL Park is an incredible venue and it will provide a truly memorable experience for both the teams and the fans.”
This game marks the first American football game hosted by PPL Park, the two-year-old stadium nestled in the shadows of the Commodore Barry Bridge.
By CHRISTOPHER A. VITO and Terry Toohey, The Delaware County Daily Times