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, as part of plans reported for the first time by Axios and confirmed to The Inquirer Friday by Zac Rubin, executive director of the New York-based U90 Soccer Center.

On the lower levels inside the building, he said, U90 builds another pitch; a soccer store run by New Jersey-based clothing chain SoccerPost, where customers can customize their gear; and a living room with TVs and gaming components.

“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, Bok 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 Instagramable Bok Bar, as well as Irwin’s and several other restaurants, and regularly hosts community events.

About two years ago, Rubin was visiting a tenant in Bok and, out of habit, checked the building’s 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, the adults come to play football early in the morning before work. 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.

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 or stroke. traumatic brain injury. 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.”

The indoor and outdoor five-a-side football pitches are smaller than traditional football pitches, which not only works well in urban spaces but is 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 organize 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.”

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