How Comcast Could Build Philly Live! AND Keep The Wachovia Spectrum
One year ago, Comcast-Spectacor announced plans to build Philly Live!, a retail/entertainment district designed by the Cordish Company to be constructed in the Philadelphia Sports Complex beside the Wachovia Center.
However, the plans did not include the Wachovia Spectrum, as it would be demolished to make way for Philly Live! to be completed. Nothing was definite, but the thought of losing the Spectrum was alarming.
This week, however, Comcast-Spectacor finally made it official: Ed Snider announced that after the 2008-2009 hockey and indoor soccer season, the Spectrum would close its doors.
Built in 1967 under Ed Snider to house a new Philadelphia NHL team, the Spectrum served as the home of the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia Sixers from 1967 until 1996, when the Wachovia Center was built across the parking lot.
However, rather than being demolished upon completion of the new arena as arenas such as Boston Garden were, the Spectrum became the new home of two new teams: the Flyers' AHL affiliate Philadelphia Phantoms, and a new indoor soccer team named the Philadelphia KiXX.
Assumably, the Phantoms and KiXX will be relocated after the season, with the Wachovia Center assuming all of the Spectrum's other events.
However, upon looking over the plans for Philly Live!, I noticed something intriguing: the only section of Philly Live! that will be placed on the plot of land currently occupied by the Spectrum is a hotel—the hotel that might not even end up as part of the final plan. The rest of Philly Live! would be built on top parts of the current parking lot.
This begs the question, "With all the open space in Sports Complex, why does a hotel have to be placed where the Spectrum is?"
This picture illustrates where Philly Live! will be constructed. I (shoddily) outlined in red the areas where Philly Live! is slated to be built. In blue, I outlined another feasible location for the hotel that would allow it to be just as accessible to the rest of the Sports Complex and Philly Live! itself, without sacrificing the Spectrum.
Why couldn't Cordish and Comcast-Spectacor have planned the project in this way in the first place? This is not a situation where an abandoned building is being demolished to make way for something else, as was with the Vet, with Boston Garden, and as will be with Yankee Stadium. This is a situation where two teams are being evicted from a stadium that houses over 100 events a year to make way for something else, even though the plans could be very easily repositioned to disallow this.
So what is the point here? Is Comcast-Spectacor no longer interested in paying for the Spectrum's upkeep for two minor league teams and concerts and other events that could be assumed into the more modern Wachovia Center?
Comcast is a company that would seem to be loaded with money (judging by my cable/Internet/phone bill, at least). I would think that it would make more sense to move the hotel to the adjacent section of the parking lot and keep the Spectrum.
This prolongs the lifespan of the Wachovia Center by keeping events split into two stadiums, keeping the Wachovia Center from being overused like stadiums in other cities may be. This also keeps the Flyers and Sixers from having to take long road trips, such as the 17 game road trip the Flyers took in December of 2005 due to the Circus being held in the Wachovia Center.
Eventually, when the Wachovia Center becomes outdated, the Spectrum can then be demolished to make way for a new, even more modern stadium, while the Center can then assume the role of the minor league stadium, still holding concerts and the Monster Jam and the Ringling Brothers Circus as well as any minor league teams that may exist at that point while allowing the Flyers, Sixers, Wings and Soul to reside in the new stadium.
My biggest worry with Philly Live! is that it just turns out to be a fad that every city decides to build rather than the staple of South Philadelphia that it could be. It would be nothing short of a travesty if the Spectrum is demolished so that a hotel can be erected that is not necessarily needed.
This transcends sentimental value; this is an issue of unnecessarily evicting two teams and demolishing a functional arena. Don't mistake my intentions; I fully support building Philly Live! Judging by the plans and the descriptions given by Peter Luukko and Ed Snider, this could truly be great for the progress of Philadelphia as a whole. I just don't understand why the Spectrum needs to go for this to be achieved.
If Comcast is willing to demolish this Philadelphia landmark, hopefully they are replacing it with another true landmark. Hopefully they do this right, creating a place that will make me want to stay there and spend my money there rather than elsewhere before and after a game or a concert. Along with retail shops, this should have sports bars, restaurants, cheesesteak shops, maybe an ESPN Zone, a studio for Comcast SportsNet, and maybe even a small concert venue similar to the Electric Factory and the Trocadero.
In fact, this would be the perfect spot for one of Philadelphia's two casinos to be built. Rather than clogging traffic on Delaware Avenue along the waterfront, one could be placed in the Sports Complex where it could generate the most optimal amount of money.
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