Exciting News!

How the future FDR Park will be a place for Youth Sports

by Fairmount Park Conservancy on March 7, 2022

Join us on Saturday, March 26 for a FREE Youth Soccer Day at FDR Park! Enjoy soccer clinics, meet the Philadelphia Union team, and enjoy music, food trucks, kayak tours, and more. Please consider registering for this free, family-friendly event: bit.ly/fdrsoccerday.


Visit FDR Park on any spring or summer Sunday, and there’s a good chance you’ll hear the cheers before you see the cleats. Past Edgewood Lake and just beyond the Southeast Asian Market are two soccer fields that are home to lively weekend games hosted by the local Mexican soccer league. 

Not far from the soccer fields are the Richie Ashburn Fields, where the Phillies Urban Youth Academy and RBI Programs play. 

FDR Park has a long history of acting as a center for youth development through sports and nature, but there are still a variety of challenges that make these experiences inaccessible for many. These range from flooding issues that make the fields inaccessible whenever it rains, to a lack of recreational areas for other popular activities beyond soccer, baseball, and softball. 

The FDR Park Plan addresses these challenges and creates recreation experiences for all of the park’s diverse users. The plan calls for a park that balances nature, water, and human activity. The future FDR Park is organized into two zones: 1) an Ecological Core that manages water, connects parks users to nature, and provides critical native habitat and wildlife; and 2) an Urban Edge, where new amenities such as signature playgrounds and state-of-the-art athletic fields offer exciting recreational activities for everyone. 

Here are 4 ways that the FDR Park Plan will ensure that the future FDR Park is a welcoming place for the youth sports community: 

CHALLENGE: There’s a lack of quality athletic fields citywide and at FDR Park. 

Athletic fields are in high demand throughout the city. That means many leagues have to 1) travel outside of the city to play on quality fields, 2) raise funds to travel to tournaments or to pay for private field rentals, 3) divide fields into mini-pitches to squeeze in more play, or even 4) forfeit home games because the lack of a playable field. 

Within FDR Park’s 350 acres, only 2.5 soccer fields exist that are prone to flooding, and there are no adequate fields for other popular sports such as football or lacrosse. 

FIX: Increase access to high-quality recreation fields and courts citywide and at FDR.

The FDR Park Plan proposes 12 new multipurpose fields and four new baseball/softball fields that are open for public use and will have a clear permitting system. These fields and courts will be located in the western half of the park within the Urban Edge, which will be elevated out of the floodplain.

These fields will not only manage their own stormwater, but also provide a more reliable playing surface that can be used multiple times per day and after major rainstorms.


CHALLENGE: Citywide, recreational areas are often separated from natural areas. 

In Philadelphia, many recreation facilities are isolated within neighborhoods or sterile, from an environmental perspective. This is a citywide problem that bars youth access to natural areas, instead of creating public spaces that are complementary between natural areas and recreation.

FIX: Bring nature, play, and water into one unified FDR Park. 

What’s exciting about the future FDR Park is that the fields and athletic courts will be intertwined with nature trails, woodlands, and waterways, bringing nature and play together in a way that doesn’t currently exist in Philadelphia parks.  

This provides opportunities for kids and caregivers to enjoy multiple experiences at once; families will be able to play a soccer game in the morning and take a stroll through the wetlands by lunch.


CHALLENGE: There is a lack of space for other popular activities. 

While there are many ways to play at FDR Park, there is a lack of recreational areas for other popular activities beyond soccer, baseball, and softball. For example, there are no basketball courts, and limited spaces for football and soccer, which are popular sports. 

FIX: Provide a diversity of experiences and programs.

The new FDR Park will remove barriers to access, creating one unified park that is for everyone. New active and passive experiences will be available throughout the park and linked by nature and multi-use trail systems and places to play and enjoy nature. 

For the first time ever, the park will have eight basketball courts, located by the Fields and under I-95. The tennis courts will also be moved to the Urban Edge by the Fields.


CHALLENGE: There are few visitor amenities. 

Currently, FDR Park lacks seating, water fountains, food and drink vendors, and restrooms. This lack of visitor amenities limits both the enjoyment of park-goers and the amount of time that they can stay and play in the park. 

FIX: Create more amenities to stay and play. 

The future FDR Park will provide needed visitor amenities to create a more overall enjoyable park experience for everyone. Interspersed within the variety of activities and programming will be new visitor amenities, including public restrooms, food and drink concessions, water fountains, benches, covered pavilions and picnic areas, and signage. This includes the park’s first-ever Welcome Center, which will be located in the former historic guard house at Broad and Pattison Avenue.


Join us on Saturday, March 26 for a FREE Youth Soccer Day at FDR Park! Enjoy soccer clinics, meet the Philadelphia Union team, music, food trucks, kayak tours, and more. Please consider registering for this free, family-friendly event: bit.ly/fdrsoccerday.

FDR Park Plan Overview from Fairmount Park Conservancy on Vimeo.

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