Soccer field

Bok building in Philadelphia to house a football field and retail space

At the Bok building this fall, you won’t just be able to have dinner or drinks or take a yoga class with a view of the skyline. You can also play football.

A rooftop soccer field is coming soon to an unused seventh-floor terrace of the historic South Philadelphia building, in plans first reported by Axios and confirmed to The Inquirer on Friday by Zac Rubin, executive director of U90 Soccer Center based in New York.

On the lower levels inside the building, he said, U90 builds another pitch; a soccer store run by New Jersey’s Soccer Post clothing chain, where customers can customize their gear; and a living room with televisions and games.

“What I found from talking to members of the Philadelphia football community: there is a significant lack of recreation space in the Philadelphia metro, just space for children, adults, people to play sports of all kinds,” Rubin said. “So we will seek to meet this need.”

The interior components are expected to open in early fall, he added, with the exterior lot and adjacent deck space expected to open soon after.

Over the past eight years, the Bok building has been transformed from a vacant former vocational school into a workspace for 140 tenants, many of whom are artists. It is home to the very Instagrammable Bok Bar, as well as Irwin’s and several other restaurants, and regularly hosts community events. Bok Bar and Irwin’s are on the eighth floor and will not be affected by new additions on the seventh.

About two years ago, Rubin was visiting a tenant in the Bok building and, out of habit, checked the available listings. He signed the lease about a year ago, he said, and spoke to stakeholders in Philadelphia’s football community to find out how the space could have the most positive impact.

Rubin said he envisions a venue being used similarly to the current U90 complex in Queens. There, he says, adults pay to play football early in the morning. Then, programs for children take place during the day, he said, and from about 7 p.m. to midnight, the grounds are used for pickup games and soccer league games, as well as by groups that rent the space for private events.

Adults will be able to reserve a spot in pickup games for a fee using the Just Play app, Rubin said, while leagues will book directly with U90 for longer-term use.

U90 plan to make the center accessible to everyone regardless of their ability to pay or play, he said. It will use grant schemes, he said, and work with local sponsors on programs for adults and children, including pupils from kindergarten to Year 8 who attend Southwark School on the other side from the street.

At the Queens facility, the fields are also used for wheelchair football, Rubin said, and next week U90 will host a football camp for children with ambulatory cerebral palsy, stroke and stroke. head trauma. He said he hopes similar programs can be implemented at the Philadelphia site.

“We work on a model where, within reason, we never turn anyone down,” he said. “We try to make the space and the programming we manage inclusive in every way.”

Indoor and outdoor five-a-side football pitches are smaller than traditional football pitches, which not only work well for urban spaces but are also ideal for teaching the game to the next generation, he said.

And yes, the outdoor court will have goal nets, he said, so balls don’t fly off the streets of South Philadelphia.

Rubin said he hoped the soccer center would help bring the sport to a community he found “significantly underserved”, with few soccer fields and soccer-specific stores in the area, he said. -he declares. He also plans to hold watch parties for the World Cup, which begins in November.

Overall, the goal, he said, is to “provide something that is both unique and completely lacking in South Philadelphia.”