Those of you planning a trip across the pond to watch the Swans in pre-season action in the United States will find the following information extremely useful for making the most of your stay and the 3 game tour.
UK visitors need an ESTA (a type of visa). The ESTA is available online and is valid for 2 years at a cost of $14. Background checks are performed, there is no certificate; details are held electronically.
Please note: Tipping in America is standard and helps the staff reach a working wage. For a sit-down meal 10% means you aren’t totally happy; 15% means all was acceptable; 20% for excellent; over 20% for outstanding; 15-20% is considered normal.
For buying drinks at the bar, $1 per drink or 15-20% of the bill is seen as the standard.
Philadelphia Union on Saturday 15th July 2017 at 19:00
Address: Talen Energy Stadium, 1 Stadium Drive, Chester, Philadelphia 19013
Telephone: 001 610 497 1657
Web Site: https://www.philadelphiaunion.com
What’s It Like?
Chester is a city on the Delaware River in Delaware County, southwest of Philadelphia towards Wilmington. Its position is unique, the best on the northeast corridor with easy access to major roadways (I-95 and I-476), waterways like the Delaware River, air and railway link.
See www.oldchesterpa.com to learn about the city and its history. The area around the stadium is safe on match days but best not to venture too far away, there are not many establishments nearby. Keep to local parking lots and areas where fans are.
Tailgating is permitted within 2 feet of the back bumper of your car at the stadium. You can also tailgate at Toyota Plaza (grass area only).
Union Ale House is a beer garden serving Yards, Modelo, Victory, Heineken, Sterling Pig and Yuengling. It’s on the deck above sections 101 – 103 on the concourse and another branch at Toyota Plaza. Alcohol sales stop at the 70th minute of the game.
The stadium has a huge variety of food; you won’t go hungry, but some prices are pretty high. This is Philadelphia; cheese steaks are everywhere, at least four kinds are sold at around $10. Chickie’s and Pete’s have locations in the stadium, their speciality is crab fries. They also do chicken cutlet sandwiches, plain or buffalo style at $10.
‘The Striker’ is a pork roll and cheese sandwich (a south New Jersey favourite), brie and apple grilled sandwiches are available. The BBQ stand has pulled pork also brisket, both $10. The soft Philly style pretzels in the shape of a U (for Union) are a good value at $5. Turkey Hill Ice Cream can be found at a few stands. Beer is $7.50 and up. Local options like Victory and Dogfish Head are more expensive, but taste better than the standard beer options.
You can wander around the concourse and look at the football memorabilia. The fan store is also in this area.
Direct flights take 8 hours from London and Manchester to Philadelphia International Airport. Depending on when you book, you can get some cheap flights to Philadelphia from the UK.
A must do in Philadelphia is visit the Art Museum Steps (19019) and run up the 72 steps made famous in the Rocky film and see the Rocky statue, including all the Rocky filming locations in Philadelphia.
For other non-Rocky related information, go to the Philadelphia Tourism website.
There are hundreds of hotels available in Philadelphia that cater for all budgets and offer plenty of flexibility to enable you to make the most of your visit for both the football and sightseeing.
Pubs and Grub
Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack (zip code 19013) is down Delaware Avenue from the stadium. It has gaming tables and betting with live harness racing; the track is built over part of the river.
Races generally start at 12:40 on Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, as well as occasional holidays that fall on Saturday and Monday. Eateries within it are Philly Tap & Tavern, Café Napoli, Krispy Kreme, The Cove Steakhouse and Raw Bar, Mien and Bacon Bits. There is a nice entrance plaza, where kids can play interactive games and join in with giveaways. There are plans for a riverwalk amidst other entertainment, retail, and residential projects in the area.
Trains, Directions and Parking
The stadium is 5 miles south of the Philadelphia International Airport at the south-west corner of the base of the Commodore Barry Bridge It’s not far from I-95 via Route 322 towards New Jersey. If you cross the Commodore Barry Bridge from Pennsylvania you’ve gone too far.
There are also shuttles to the SEPTA Chester Transportation Centre for the regional train, there is also an Uber and Lyft specific lot located near to the stadium.
Parking for the stadium opens 5 hours before games and is $20. Lot A: Pre-Paid Passes, $20 Cash Parking per car as space permits, Lot B: ADA, Pre-Paid Passes, Pre Approved Press/ Media, $20 Cash Parking per car as space permits, Lot C: Pre-Paid Passes, $20 Cash Parking per car as space permits, Lot SOB: SOB Members Only (Pre-Paid Passes, $20 Cash Parking per car as space permits). Expect delays as no one sticks around after the game. Lots of cars slowly try to get back onto Route 322 West.
Richmond Kickers on Wednesday 19th July 2017 at 19:30
Address: 3201 Maplewood Avenue, Richmond, VA 23221, United States
Telephone: 001 804 644 5425
Web Site: http://www.richmondkickers.com
What’s It Like?
City Stadium is south of the Carytown district off the Downtown Expressway. The stadium was built in 1929 and seats for 9,000 for football games. Tickets for the game are $30/$45.
Food trucks can be found around the city of Richmond serving up local food at low prices. Richmond Food Truck Association gives a list of the trucks. Each truck has their own website with menu and prices.
The Kickers have a rotating menu from game to game, and you can find out what food trucks will be at what game on the Kickers’ website.
If a taco truck is at the same game, get in line early. You can get a huge burrito and three amazing tacos al pastor for $12. There are also a couple of food stands with standard football fare: hot dogs ($3), chili or cheese hot dog ($4), and cheeseburger ($4). Lemonade is $5 with unlimited refills and a Papa John’s 8-inch pizza is $7.
Beer tickets are $5 and the typical line up consists of Bud Light, Modelo, and Kick It Hunny, the official beer of the Richmond Kickers.
For every Wednesday league game, you can pick up a free beer ticket at the will call gate outside the stadium with each match ticket. You get a free beer of your choice. Whether this is available for the Swans game is not confirmed at the time of writing.
While you are walking around before the game, check out the Kickers’ mural behind Section O. Team sheets are passed out as you enter the stadium. The River City Red Army keep the stadium rocking. At the end of the game the team goes over to Section O to thank the fans and sign autographs.
Kickaroo, the Kickers’ kangaroo mascot spends his time walking up and down the sideline in front of the bleachers, pumping up the crowd, throwing giveaways into the stands and climbing into the stands to wave flags with the Red Army or take pictures with the younger fans – a big of a local hero.
Washington DC has three major airports; Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI). You are likely to fly into Dulles. It is huge and the setting for Die Hard 2.
Depending on where you fly from in the UK, you can get some cheap flights to Washington DC.
As you’d imagine there are plenty of places to stay in the Richmond area.
Before I flew there 2 years ago, I made a point of watching the film beforehand. Those who are nervous flyers may decide to give it a miss. Richmond is 108 miles from Washington DC, which can be travelled in under 2 hours by car via Interstate 95.
If travelling from Philadelphia after the first game, Richmond International Airport is an hour flight from Philadelphia with American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and United.
Just south of the stadium is Maymont Park, a 100-acre, 19th-century estate complete with gardens, waterfalls, petting zoo, and a hands-on nature centre. Admission is free to the gardens and stable, and $3 for the nature centre. This place is said to be particularly beautiful during the spring and summer months which.
For information go to Visit Richmond VA – it’s an amazing site and has everything you need to know before planning your trip.
Pubs and Grub
The stadium doesn’t seem too close to many bars or eateries. One that is not too far away is the sports bar Sheppard Street Tavern (zip code 23221), opposite is an Italian restaurant and nearby are China Panda, Akida Japanese and Buddy’s Place. There’s also a 7-11 across the road for your tailgating needs.
Half a mile from the stadium is West Cary Street also known as Carytown. Along this one-mile stretch of road, you can find everything from all-American burgers to Italian and Japanese restaurants.
Getting to Carytown is relatively easy, and there is plenty of parking in the surrounding area. Gus’ Sports Bar and Grill (zip code 23220) is two miles from the stadium, and is the official sports bar of the Richmond Kickers.
This place is a local favourite and a great place to go before the game if you are in Richmond all day. If you are just in to see the game, eat at the stadium, you will not be disappointed, and neither will your wallet.
Parking and Directions
Free parking is available and tailgating is encouraged at all Kickers home games.
From North: Interstate 95 South (exit 79) to 195 South (Downtown Expressway). Follow for 3 miles and take Rosewood Avenue Exit. Turn left at McCloy Street. Stadium is on the right.
From South: Interstate 95 North (exit 74) to 195 North (Downtown Expressway, TOLL road, 50 cents). Take Rosewood Avenue Exit. Turn left on McCloy Street. Stadium is on right.
From West: Interstate 64 East to Interstate 195 South (Downtown Expressway). Take Rosewood Avenue Exit. Turn left on McCloy Street. Stadium is on right.
From East: 64 West to 95 South. Take 195 North (Downtown Expressway). Take Rosewood Avenue Exit. Turn left on McCloy Street. Stadium is on right.
From UR Campus: From Boatwright Drive turn right at Three Chopt Road. Turn left at Cary Street. Take Cary Street into “Carytown”. Turn right on Freeman Road. Stadium is four blocks on the left.
North Carolina Courage on Saturday 22nd July 2017 at 19:30
Address: Wakemed Soccer Park, 201 Soccer Park Drive, Cary NC 27511.
Telephone: 001 919 459 8144
Web Site: http://www.northcarolinafc.com
What’s It Like?
The stadium seats 10,000 people on 150 acres on the eastern edge of Cary. The team has been successful in recent years with play-off appearances in five of their first 8 years. They also perform well in the US Open Cup, with wins over Chivas USA and LA Galaxy.
The food is a cut above other stadiums, but expect to pay more. There’s a Backyard Bistro stand. You can order a la carte for around $6 or regular stadium food for $9 (with a combo). Soft drinks are available around the stadium for $3. A large selection of craft beer is sold on the east side of the stadium for $7.
Visiting North Carolina
The nearest airport is Raleigh-Durham International Airport. Direct flights with Heathrow are 8 hours with British Airway, Aer Lingus, Air Canada, KLM and many other airlines. With so many airlines flying to Raleigh-Durham airport, you have plenty of options to choose the most convenient and cheapest flights to North Carolina.
North Carolina is a south eastern US state that goes from the Atlantic Ocean beaches to the Appalachian Mountains.
Museums such as the NASCAR Hall of Fame are in Charlotte. The state motto (“First in Flight”) honours the Wright Brothers, who flew their first plane in Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks, barrier islands lined with popular beaches. For more information go to the North Carolina website.
Pubs and Grub
The biggest issue with the stadium is its location. There’s not a lot within walking distance, and almost everything in the area closes at 10pm or earlier. Exceptions are the bars listed for the Red & Blue Express.
There are a few chain restaurants like Subway (27601) and a Bojangles (27601) – Southern-inspired Cajun fried chicken, in the immediate area and the nearby mall. Ole Time Barbeque (27606) is right down the road from the stadium, but you’ll need to get there early. It’s some of the area’s best BBQ with one issue: there’s only 20 seats. It could fill up fast and you’ll get a takeaway. Downtown Raleigh is a short drive, and is known as a “foodie” town. The Pit (27601) serves local BBQ in a more upscale setting. Tobacco Road Sports Café (27701) is one of the best sports bars in the area.
Directions and Parking
The stadium is only a few miles from I-40, the problems arise when you get near the stadium. NC-54, the road leading to the stadium is just three lanes, which causes lots of traffic leading up to kick off, so get there early. Parking is $6, cash. If walking distance is a priority, arrive early and go to lot C. If full, park in D or E. This is where all the tailgates are so you’ll have a fun walk to the game.
From Interstate 40 Eastbound (From Chapel Hill, Durham):
Take the Cary 54 exit (exit 290) off Interstate 40.
Turn right at the top of the exit ramp, heading toward Cary.
Turn left onto Southeast Maynard Road.
Take a left on Chatham Street after crossing the railroad tracks.
WakeMed Soccer Park is 0.5 mile on the right.
From Interstate 40 Westbound (From Fayetteville, Wilmington):
Take exit 291 (Cary Towne Boulevard)
Turn right onto Cary Town Boulevard
Turn right onto Southeast Maynard Road.
Turn right onto East Chatham Street.
WakeMed Soccer Park will be 0.5 mile on the right.
From Downtown Cary:
Head east on Chatham Street toward Raleigh.
WakeMed Soccer Park will be on the right.
From the Beltline, take the Western Boulevard exit and head west toward Cary.
Continue after the merger with Hillsborough Street until the road becomes East Chatham Street.
WakeMed Soccer Park will be on the left, one-half mile before the Maynard Road intersection
The club offer free bus pick-ups on the Red & Blue Express, with limo style seating, free Lonerider beer and soft drinks using priority lanes in and out of the stadium.
To claim the free travel tickets, get them early from participating bars:
Carolina Ale House – 500 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh NC 27603 (departure 17:30)
London Bridge Pub – 110 East Hargett, Raleigh NC 27601 (departure 17:45)
Bull McCabes – 427 West Main Street, Durham NC 27701 (departure 17:40)
Brightleaf Square – 905 West Main Street, Durham NC 27701 (departure 17:50)
For the Travelling Jacks making the trip – Be Loud, Be Proud and Be Positive!