The latest export from Philadelphia to China is going to be…football.
"We've got the only winning team in Philadelphia, right now," said Marty Judge, one of the owners of the Philadelphia Soul. He's getting ready to launch an Arena football league in six different Chinese cities.
"I went to China and took Arena football to China and they loved it," Judge said. "So we're bringing a whole new sport to China."
They hope to start play in the Fall of 2014. Judge heads up the group. His partners in the venture are former Eagles Quarterback Ron Jaworski, former Eagles Coach Dick Vermeil and longtime Philadelphia Sportscaster Lou Tilley.
Philadelphia City Councilman David Oh says this is the kind of deal that can help Philadelphia evolve into more of an international city.
“We’re happy to show how important it is to us here in the city, that we take our products and our city overseas and we appreciate the investment that the Chinese are making in, what I would like to call, Philadelphia football and Philadelphia culture.”
This type of start-up does does come with some cultural challenges. The brain trust for the league has been working with the Chinese government for two years to try to take this venture from the idea stage to reality. Tilley, who also runs Lou Tilley Media Enterprises, says he is currently looking for bilingual people who he can help train to broadcast the games in China. He’s also going to Hawaii to recruit people with football experience who are also bilingual to work with the players.
Tilley says the Chinese government has given the group permission and support to stage two exhibition games in October. And that will be the first test to see how well the international megaphone for Philly works.
"And I'm certainly expecting that every time it says 'Arena football' it will say, 'Brought to you by Philadelphia.'" Judge says.