2011 saw the inaugural staging of the River
Cup; a soccer match between the coaches and staff of the Philadelphia Union and the
supporters group, the Sons of Ben. An unprecidented event, it was also the first time the Union and SoBs had been involved in a co-branded project and the first time the supporters had been officially permitted on the hallowed turf.There were several marks designed for the event from detailed web banners and mastheads to simplified gameday patches for the team shirts to merchandise and posters that were part of a larger print project. All of which carried the image of the River Cup, the design of which was based on elements of the PPL logo, sponsors of the team and venue.
LEGACY & THE 2013 EDITION
The 2012 RiverCup identity proved really succesful and won a Philadelphia AIGA award, so the pressure was on in 2013 to do something different and compelling. Based around the throwback concept of the Union’s Bethlehem Steel jerseys, the identity was primarily monochromatic with an accent of warm red. The SoBs were to line up in exact opposite uniforms. Ads were designed that emulated vintage newsprint and a series of ‘Boxing’ contest type posters were designed for use around the stadium. The tag line "WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON?' was developed as a call to arms to enrgize supporters to make a decision they don't normally have to make, and a divisive one, root for their team, or their friends.
It was a given that the Philadelphia Union would be wearing their official team strip, but it was important that the supporters group didn't look like a rag tag bunch with local sports supply store uniforms. Through contacts we had at adidas and umbro we were able to work with both companies to deliver professional looking team apparel, from warm up jerseys, to half-zips, to the actual uniforms. Each year the production process got more complex in trying to emulate the look and feel of professional apparel, and co-ordinating multiple vendors to supply low minimum order quantites for woven team crests, cad cut sponsor appliques, and names and numbers..
As mentioned earlier, this was an occasion where we got to play with 2 brands in a joint exercise. As with most sporting events, and even a small event such as this, merchandise is a revenue stream that should not be ignored. Since the SoB uniforms were not available for general sale in 2013 (they have been in subsequent years), we produced two ringer shirts echoing the designs of each team's jerseys. The scarves, which are always in demand items, played off the "whose side are you on?" line, with a side allocated for each team rather than the traditional half and half commemorative scarves.
...AND THE WINNER IS...
For the third year running, the annual RiverCup tournament suppassed all expectations, raising around $40,000 for the Union Foundation and Sons of Ben charities. In front of around 800 spectators, and after the Fall Festival on Toyota Plaza, the teams took the field in the early evening sun. After a cagey start the Union took the lead only to be pegged back moments later. As the game wore on, legs tired and 2 late goals from the SoBs sealed the win. The Sons of Ben and the Philadelphia Union Foundation are committed to helping the kids of the community of Chester, PA through sport and soccer, and with the establishment of Chester City United, the Foundation has already taken large strides into making good on their promise.