The Buck Building in Philadelphia to house a soccer field and retail space

At the Bok Building this fall, you won’t be able to just dine or drink, or take a yoga class with skyline views. You will also be able to play football.

A rooftop soccer field will soon be coming to an unused seventh-floor balcony in the historic South Philadelphia building, as part of plans first reported by Axios and confirmed by Zach Rubin, executive director of the New York-based U90 Football Center, to The Inquirer Friday.

On the lower levels inside the building, he said, U90 is building another field; a soccer retail store operated by the Soccer Post apparel chain in New Jersey, where patrons can customize gear; A hall with TVs and games.

“What I found in speaking to members of the Philadelphia football community: There is a huge lack of recreational space in the Philadelphia metro, a space for kids and adults and people to play sports of all kinds,” Rubin said. “So we will consider a step toward meeting this need.”

He added that the internal components should be open by early fall, with the external space and adjacent surface area opening soon after.

Over the past eight years, the Bock 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 Instagrammable Bok Bar, as well as Irwin and several other restaurants, and it regularly hosts community events. Bok Bar and Irwin are on the 8th floor, and they won’t be affected by the new additions on the 7th floor.

About two years ago, Robin was visiting a tenant of the Bock Building and, out of habit, checked out the available listings. He said he signed the lease about a year ago, and spoke to stakeholders in the Philadelphia football community to find out how the space could make the most positive impact.

Rubin said he envisions a venue that would be used similarly to the existing U90 complex in Queens. There, he said, adults pay to play soccer early in the morning. Then, programs geared toward children are carried out during the day, he said, and from about 7 p.m. until midnight, the fields are used for pick-up games and football league matches, as well as by groups who rent the venue for special events.

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

He said that U90 plans to make the center accessible to everyone, regardless of one’s ability to pay or play. He said he would take advantage of grant programs, and work with local sponsors on programming for adults and children, including K-8 students who attend Southwark School across the street.

The fields at the Queens facility are also used for wheelchair football, and next week, U90 will host a soccer camp for children with relapsing cerebral palsy, stroke and brain injury, Robin said. He said he hoped similar programs could be set up at the Philadelphia location.

“We’re working on a model where, within reason, we never get away from anyone,” he said. “We try to make the space and programming we manage inclusive in every way.”

He said the indoor and outdoor five-a-side courts are smaller in size than traditional soccer fields, which not only do well in urban spaces but are also ideal for teaching the game to the next generation.

And yes, the outdoor field will have a net of cages, he said, so the balls don’t run down the streets of South Philadelphia.

Rubin said he hoped the soccer center would help bring the sport to a community that he found “severely underserved,” with few soccer fields and dedicated soccer stores in the area, he said. It also plans to host World Cup viewing parties, which begin in November.

Overall, the goal, he said, is “to provide something unique and totally missing in South Philadelphia.”

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