Sports complex makeover plans revealed

January 22, 2008 6:19:58 PM PST
Comcast-Spectacor has unveiled plans to develop a retail, dining and entertainment district in the area adjacent to the Wachovia Center.

Philly Live! will feature a variety of year-round attractions in a Main Street setting surrounding the sports complex.

"Philadelphia has the best sports fans and the best sports facilities in the country," said Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider. "Our vision when we built the Wachovia Center was to create the ultimate sports destination. Philly Live! is the dining and retail entertainment component of that vision. And, Philly Live! will not be limited to the sports and entertainment goers. This property will be open to everyone, every day, whether they are attending an event or not."

Comcast is partnering with The Cordish Company to build the retail and entertainment area. The developer is the company behind The Walk, a popular outlet complex in Atlantic City. Philly Live's goal to attract crowds seven days a week.

David Cordish, chairman of The Cordish Company, said the south Philadelphia site could be the most lucrative they have developed.

The proposed development site is located between the Wachovia Center and the Spectrum and is near the stadiums that are home to the Phillies and Eagles. Interstate 95 runs nearby.

"What you have in Philadelphia, which you really have nowhere else in the United States, is an unbelievable collection of anchors," Cordish said.

The Cordish Company has developed similar projects in Baltimore, St. Louis, Houston and other cities.

"The Cordish Company has an outstanding reputation for creating some of the most popular entertainment districts in the US," said Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko.

The District will feature a distinctive canopy covering the center plaza area of the development and will offer visitors a unique mix of culinary, retail and entertainment experiences for which Cordish has won national awards. One possible development option also includes a 300-room hotel.

The future of the Spectrum is uncertain.

"I'm very proud of the Spectrum. It's my baby," said Snider.

Philly Live could connect the Wachovia Center with the Spectrum, but in a rendering The Spectrum is gone and in its place is a hotel. Snider says his group is actively debating pros and cons. He can't say if the Spectrum comes tumbling down or stays put yet.

The Spectrum is currently home to the Flyers' minor league affiliate, the Phantoms, and an indoor soccer team, the Kixx, as well as concerts and other events.

Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko said he believes many of the events could be moved to the larger Wachovia Center, but some - particularly Phantoms and Kixx games - might not due to scheduling conflicts. Discussions about where those teams would play would not begin unless a decision is made to demolish the Spectrum, Luukko said.

(Some information from The Associated Press)

The Spectrum was state of the art in 1967 -- Home to Dr. J, the Broad Street Bullies and Kate Smith. Snider says in other cities when new arenas arrive, the old gets pulled down. Snider said a decision on the Spectrum's future will come in the next month.

The project would take about 18 months to complete, officials said.