Positive changes coming to Capitolo

Children play on the new playground at Capitolo Playground. Archive photo

In the spring, young athletes will see major upgrades to the fields at Capitolo Playground.

City officials broke ground on the $1 million Rebuild project at the park located at 900 Federal St., across the street from popular cheesesteak destinations Pat’s and Geno’s.

“Capitolo has been the heart of this South Philadelphia community for decades,” said City Councilmember Mark Squilla. “From Italian baseball players to Mexican soccer players, generations of multicultural Philadelphians have enjoyed the ball fields, playgrounds and gardens. The improvements to this gem are necessary so that future Philadelphians continue to play in this city oasis.”

Squilla was joined by Mayor Jim Kenney as well as members of the Philadelphia Union Foundation and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer last week to officially break ground on the project.

The highlight of the project at Capitolo is a state-of-the-art mini pitch for soccer players. The Union Foundation and Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer has committed to build 14 other mini soccer pitches and two full-size signature fields across the city.

“It’s our mission to grow the game of soccer, and it’s our privilege to work with the City and the Philadelphia Union to build these mini-pitches,” said Chris Branscome, CEO of Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer. “The children of this community, and those of our future sites, deserve to have well maintained and safe fields to play on. This field will provide for great fun, fitness and friendships.”

The construction of a mini-pitch is among several improvements earmarked for the park during this second phase of the project. Capitolo will also see regraded and uplifted athletic fields, additional trees and picnic table seating along Passyunk Avenue, improvements to fencing along the community garden, the creation of an ADA-accessible entrance at 10th and Wharton streets and new bleacher and team benches for spectators and players, totaling more than $1 million.

“Just looking around the crowd at Capitolo, I am reminded that Philadelphia youth sports are a lifeline to thousands of kids, built by an incredible network of volunteers,” said Kathryn Ott Lovell, commissioner for Parks and Recreation. “But too many leagues face a shortage of quality field space. Investments like this provide the quality sports facilities our coaches and communities so desperately need. Thanks to Rebuild, the Union and Eastern PA Youth Soccer for giving young people new places to play.”

Capitolo Playground is a 4.1-acre site that hosts a variety of youth and adult activities. It has a two-room building with multipurpose spaces. Outside, the park features playground equipment, sprinkler, sports fields, two basketball courts and a community garden.

“Thousands of Philadelphians use Capitolo Playground and its field every week and investing in this site is an investment in the neighbors and community that surround it,” said Mayor Kenney. “Today’s groundbreaking kicks off construction on much-needed and deserved improvements at Capitolo Playground and I can’t wait to come back to cut the ribbon.”

Construction is scheduled to be completed in the spring.

“Rebuild’s promise to communities acknowledges the unique history at each of our sites. Here at Capitolo, the vibrant culture of soccer shines bright,” said Kira Strong, executive director of Rebuild. “When it came time to invest in the fields, we were overjoyed by the level of passion neighbors and residents had towards supporting this project.”