Sons of Ben

The Sons of Ben is a 501(c) (3) Pennsylvania based non-profit, membership organization.

The Sons of Ben, founded in January 2007, exists to support and develop the Delaware Valley soccer community. Through active, grassroots support, the Sons of Ben helped establish the momentum leading to the creation of the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Philadelphia Independence of the Women’s Professional Soccer (WPS) league. In forging a relationship with Chester City, Delaware County and Pennsylvania State political leaders along with Major League Soccer, the vocal support of the group directly influenced the decision to award Philadelphia with an MLS franchise.

The Sons of Ben have provided a social outlet for soccer supporters to share common interests and be part of a larger community of sports fans in the 4th largest American media market. The organization has grown to include over 5,000 members throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and around the world. The Sons of Ben have also grown to oversee the Delaware Valley Infantry, a US Soccer supporters group based in Philadelphia region, and the Daughters of Betsy, a Philadelphia Independence (WPS) supporters group.
Charitable and philanthropic efforts have been central to the Sons of Ben since its founding, as evidenced by annual initiatives supporting the Bernardine Center in Chester, PA through its Help Kick Hunger campaign and ongoing efforts to support various other organizations close to the Delaware Valley soccer community.

The coming months will start a new chapter in the organizations noteworthy story with many historical events marking the arrival of the Philadelphia Union, Philadelphia Independence and the Sons of Ben into the national spotlight.

Nick at Night 12.18.2008

Welcome to the Meet the Owners Q&A with Nick Sakiewicz! We’ll begin accepting questions @ 7pm EST. Please do not submit questions prior to then. Thanks Mike Naioti: We are recieving some great questions, please keep them coming. We will be starting in just a moment

Nick Sakiewicz: Good evening everyone! Happy holidays! On behalf of the organization, I want to wish everyone a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year.

Jeff Freiberg: What types of marketing channels will be use to raise awareness for the team?

Nick Sakiewicz: We’re launching a campaign in January, which will utilize print and internet. As we get closer to opening day, we’ll begin adding in TV and radio.

Mike Thomas: Has their been a spike in ticket deposits since the ground breaking?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, a sharp one. We’ve done more deposits in the last two weeks than we have in the prior two months.

Matt Acconciamessa: Nick, will there be student internship opportunities with Philly MLS next summer?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, we’re working with a number of Universities in the area, our neighbors in Chester.

Mike Thomas: Any chance fans will not only vote on the name, but also the colors and uniform design? How much say will the public have and how much will be left up to you guys?

Nick Sakiewicz: The public will have a lot of say on the name and there will be four choices presented along with a blank. As far as the colors are concerned, those are being determined through a collaboration with Adidas, the league, fan focus groups, and ownership.

tom roletter: Nick – is there anything we Philly MLS fans can learn from the unfortunate demise of the Philly Soul & the Arena League and try to avoid those types of problems?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, have a strong ownership group, like MLS. tom roletter: I would care Nick when it is Philly MLS holding the FiFA trophy

Jeff Freiberg: So what is the updated season ticket count?

Nick Sakiewicz: North of 6000.

Pete H: When will information be sent out about tickets and options for seating in the new stadium

Nick Sakiewicz: Seat selection won’t take place until mid summer. Pricing information will be sent out in early January.

the eye: is it true a philly 2010 staff memeber saved bryan james’s life

Nick Sakiewicz: It’s not true. Bryan James’ quick reactions is what saved him.

Harp: In 2006 I went to the World Cup in Germany and while there I had the chance to visit many pubs. In Amsterdam,Belgium and Germany there were many “soccer first”type bar/restuarants all with alot of unique flavor. I have gone to a few SOB gatherings at the Darkhorse in Phila. while I was there I found it had all the elements I enjoyed so much at the cup. Why not a Darkhorse -in Chester?

Nick Sakiewicz: Why not? We’re working with a number of pub operators for such an amenity in the stadium.

Jeff Freiberg: So can we assume Panasonic will be the kit sponser?

Nick Sakiewicz: No. Panasonic is not the kit sponsor. They are the stadium’s Keystone Partner in the technology category and in addition, they are the technology partner for the entire master plan redevelopment.

tom roletter: is it too early for us to be paying very close attention to NCAA matches for possible players? …Like good job Maryland did in winning the title this past weekend.

Nick Sakiewicz: No, it’s not too early. We will be attending this year’s MLS Combine.

Nick Sakiewicz: Since Seattle was the only team picking out of the lot of players, their selections were predictable and very good, given the pool of players they had to select from. Not sure we would’ve done anything different and in fact, we did a mock expansion draft and came very close to picking the same players.

DANJOLELL: Hello Nick my mother, Betty D’Anjolell says congratulations on everything.

Nick Sakiewicz: Thank you very much Ms. D’Anjolell.

Brandon_Shadle: When will the construction web cam be up?

Nick Sakiewicz: Working on it now. Should be up sometime after the 1st of the year.

Mario in SJ: Any chance we will see, at your urging, a soccer news program from the Philadelphia TV and or Radio media?

Nick Sakiewicz: Possibly. We are planning on some shoulder programming in addition to our broadcasts.

Harp: DC united had a knockout tailgate–Iwas there for the Cuba US game. Will the Philly club have something like that?

Nick Sakiewicz: DC didn’t host a tailgate. That was Screaming Eagles.

Tim Tomalavage: Has any asked about when season ticket pricing will be announced? And will we see a layout of the seating by section when the pricing is announced?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, just after the 1st of the year pricing by sections will be released.

Mike Thomas: Tell me their is no chance that if Miami does get awarded a bid that they will be in 2010… I would hate to see any other team come in and dilute our drafting

Nick Sakiewicz: I would not bet against Miami coming in in 2010.

tom roletter: do you really think we will still have an east / west conference setup in MLS even if/when Barcelona tries to invest in the league in the future?

Nick Sakiewicz: Barcelona doesn’t dictate single table vs. two conferences. That’s a Board of Governor’s decision.

Joe.Hausmann: As a Blackburn Rovers fan, coaching issues are on my mind… I know you’ve said its your intent to contend for the MLS Cup year 1, with that in mind, I assume you are thinking along the lines of an experienced head man with MLS experience as opposed to a younger “fresh face”? (And Dear God Not Paul Ince )

Nick Sakiewicz: We are very focused on hiring an experience Head Coach that will fit in with our city and our team culture, and help us compete in year 1 and every year after that.

Harp: Will there be weather protected seating in the new stadium?

Nick Sakiewicz: It will somewhat depend on the wind, but there will be roofs on the two sidelines that will protect many of the seats.

Jeff Freiberg: Is the stadium still on track to be ready for opening day? Do you see any possible obsticles that would prevent that from happening?

Nick Sakiewicz: Currently, we are on track. I’ve learned from Red Bull Park (now Arena) that things happen on stadium projects that are entirely out of your control. It’s literally a daily question and today, we’re on track.

Mike Thomas: will the stadium have bleacher seats or individuals… or a mix?

Nick Sakiewicz: Likely individual seats throughout the building, however we are working with the Sons of Ben and other focus groups to determine the best options. We have a number of seats in our offices that people have been sampling as they come through.

tom roletter: any new info on the possibilty of MLS “taking a break” during the 2010 World Cup Group stage matches in South Africa?

Nick Sakiewicz: We’ve never done that and it’s something that is very difficult to manage around. I can’t see that happening.

Pete H: Will the Philly team invest in a youth club similar to what the NY Redbulls have done?

Nick Sakiewicz: Octavio Zambrano and I started the youth development system at the MetroStars (now Red Bulls). When Bob Bradley took over as Head Coach, we improved it and in Philly, we will take it to an even higher level.

Tim Tomalavage: Im very excited about the new stadium, will there be any new renderings for us too look at?

Nick Sakiewicz: No, renderings are expensive and you get the idea. The stadium will start to come out of the ground so you’ll be seeing the real thing very soon.

Harp: When compiling the roster–will you give any preference to local players?

Nick Sakiewicz: Only if they can help us win!

Ric L.: The Linc has been cited as a “green” stadium. Are there any efforts being made for the new stadium?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, to the extent that we can be energy efficient and “green” without busting the budget, we are taking advantage of theose technologies.

Mario in SJ: Nick, can you give us an update on the current status of the youth academy that the team will have. Anything in the works yet?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, Rob Smith, our Director of Operations, has been heading up a planning initiative and speaking with some key partners that will be part of our youth development, recruiting, and coaching development programs.

tom roletter: have we seen the last Landon Donovan in a MLS uniform?…In your opinion, that is.

Nick Sakiewicz: I have no idea….

cbrown: Hey Nick, correct me if I’m wrong, FIFA requires the front row of seats to be 20 feet from the touchlines and 28 behind the goals, are plans in place to put the seats right on ground level and as close as possible?

Nick Sakiewicz: The first row of seats is a FIFA minimum so they are as close to the touchline as possible. It’s a poor practice to put the first row at field level because those seats become less valuable and obstructive with security and field boards. Therefore, we raised the first row approx. 24 inches above the field grade.

Mike Thomas: in the unfortunate event that things do get out of our control when building the stadium where would the team play? The Linc? Franklin Field? ect.

Nick Sakiewicz: Haven’t really thought about it but where do you think the best place would be to play on a temporary basis?

Mark.Dunfee: What’s up with the cars outside the SoB entrance in the slightly changed rendering that was sent out as a holiday card today? (thanks, btw!)

Nick Sakiewicz: That’s supposed to be player parking. Don’t throw tomatoes at their cars.

Sully: Hello Nick and all, I was born in Chester but now live in Southern Maryland (DC United Territory). I have become a soccer fan (by coaching my kids) and can’t wait for Philly Soccer to begin. Wahoo!! But I am disappointed in the coverage of soccer by the DC stations. I also listen in to 610WIP where they laugh at soccer. What are your general plans for coverage? Thx, and good luck!!

Nick Sakiewicz: That’s OK. I laugh at WIP. Those guys probably think the Berlin Wall is still standing. We are getting great coverage in Philly and I expect that once the team begins playing and our stadium looks like it will be sold out every game, the media will be even more attentive than they are today.

Jeff Freiberg: Thanks for the holiday e-card! I noticed some small differences in the stadium shown in the email compared to the other renderings from the website. Any changes worth noting?

Nick Sakiewicz: No, just some minor tweaks.

Tim Tomalavage: Are you guys working on finding a training facility for the team?

Nick Sakiewicz: We have and are developing a very cool training center option. Not ready to talk about it now.

Pete H: Where will your training ground be? Will there be fields strategically placed around the stadium?

Nick Sakiewicz: Can’t say. Top secret info right now but we’ll release it when we’re ready.

Alexander keating: What are your thoughts on promotion and relegation

Nick Sakiewicz: If we didn’t have $300 million invested in MLS I’d be all for it, but it’s hard to convince the great owners that started this league and invested so much money that someday their team might be playing in the USL. Our founding owners deserve better. It works in Europe and in other parts of the world because those teams are for the most part over 100 years old and it’s a different situation.

keith.hickey: Panasonic was announced as the technology partner. Will we have video adboards?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, the stadium is outfitted with LED video boards as well as 200 feet of ribbon LED along each sideline. We’re working with Panasonic to look at additional LED video board options in the south end of the stadium.

Harp: I heard a SOB member on the 2 G`s show. He did a nice of giving info on the Philly club.Did you happen to hear it?

Nick Sakiewicz: No I didn’t hear it. I heard Tom did a good job though.

Alexander keating: When are the team colors going to be announced

Nick Sakiewicz: At the same time the team name is announced, around the end of January.

Brandon_Shadle: Will there be something similar to the Colorado/Salt Lake Rocky Mountain Cup between Philly/NY to build up the rivalry?

Nick Sakiewicz: We’ll compete for whatever trophy comes our way but we’d rather focus on the real ones. MLS Cup, Champions League, US Open Cup, Superliga, Supporter’s Shield, etc.

tom roletter: Do you like the new setup for MLS in regards to CONCACAF Champions League positions for the top clubs as opposed to Superliga positions for runners-up MLS teams at the end of the season?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes.

Alexander keating: Will you work with USL teams.

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes. We’ve identified a couple of them already, where our philosophies and objectives are common and will work with them closely to develop players.

Sully: Do you have a mailing list to help keep me in the loop?

Nick Sakiewicz: Absolutely. Go to MLSphilly2010.com and sign up…thanks for your support!

Tim Tomalavage: I know there are plans for a bar/pub in the stadium but are there plans for anything else like a team store?

Nick Sakiewicz: Yes, team store, major 15,000 sf club in the north end, and general concessions under the stands in the main concourses.

Mike Naioti: We will be on for about another 10 minutes or so – final call for your questions for this edition of Nick (Sakiewicz) at Night!

Nick Sakiewicz: I received a question about SEPTA and the lack of transportation from Northern Delaware…

Nick Sakiewicz: We’re working very closely with SEPTA on a marketing platform as well as a bus and train program around events.

Tim Tomalavage: How many events other then soccer games (mens & womens) do you have scheduled for the first year?

Nick Sakiewicz: Our target # of events the first year is 40+. We currently have commitments for approx. 30 and the remaining ten or so events will be determined during the 2009 booking season.

Jeff Freiberg: There is a nice grass field directly north of the stadium (under the CB Bridge). Will this field still be there for us to kick the ball around before games?

Nick Sakiewicz: No, that park is being relocated and the stadium will be going there.

keith.hickey: Will you be going to the US-Mexico game in Columbus in February?

Nick Sakiewicz: Possibly.

tom roletter: is there a limit on how many matches MLS can play in a season? —in light of future expansion

Nick Sakiewicz: No.

Nick Sakiewicz: I want to thank everybody for logging on tonight. It’s been a wonderful 10 months since we announced the team! We are all looking forward to 2009 and having a team name very soon. MLSPhilly2010 has been a nice name but I think we’re all ready for the real deal! Best wishes to everyone’s families for the holidays and we’ll talk with you in 2009!

© copyright 2014, Sons of Ben.  Main image by Earl Gardner.