South Philly Wooing Sports Fans With Xfinity Live! Complex

They built it, but will you come?

By L. K. Murray
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Mar. 20, 2012

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“You’re opening up related retail opportunities and things the sports consumer would like,” Maxcy says. “It’s a situation where they might not be able to get tickets to a Phillies or Flyers game, but with this, people who want to be close to the action can go down and enjoy the benefits of being close, but not inside.”

The question now is whether there’s enough interest for people to come from the city or out of town seven days a week to make the project viable. Luukko couldn’t offer up revenue projections, though he suggests South Philly’s development over the years as an indicator of things to come.

“The neighborhood’s growing up, there’s a lot more people working down here than five or 10 years ago, both working and living,” Luukko says. “I’ve talked to the Navy Yard about running shuttles here. They have some places to eat, but they want to expand the offerings for thousands of employees down there.”

Part of the master plan for the old Naval Shipyard projects that the site will be able to accommodate 20,000 employees when it is fully built out. The same plan calls for at least 850 and up to 5,750 mid-rise and townhouse units.

“We’re so close to downtown,” Luukko says. “We’re seven minutes from Center City but on the other hand, as the city grows outward, we’re creating that mass and economic impact. The good news is that we’re creating more jobs.”

At the Spectrum, about 250 people were needed to staff an event. The same number is expected for busy nights at Xfinity Live!, but for more nights during the calendar year than the Spectrum had when it was the only game in town.

Win or lose, the game is the main attraction for WIP radio personality Big Daddy Graham. The Philadelphia native and overnight-show host has seen his fair share of games at venues going back to arenas that even predate the Vet.

“I go to games to watch a game and although there is way more stuff going on during timeouts and inbetween innings, I still find that nothing gets in the way of that for me,” he says.

He doesn’t mind the luxuries the new developments offer, but doesn’t get wrapped up in the spectacle that happens off the field.

Then again, there are plenty of others to justify the extra amenities. The lines of those willing to miss significant portions of games just for crab fries prove that.

“What we have to do is create the fun here and build on it so maybe when we’re long gone, it really is like a downtown urban stadium,” Luukko says.

Phillies Facts: Cover Your Bases

#1: Philadelphia baseball traces its roots to North Broad Street. Shibe Park (renamed Connie Mack Stadium) was home to the former Philadelphia Athletics in addition to the Phillies at different points between 1909 and 1970. Between 1938 and 1954, the two teams shared the stadium.

 

Up until 1938, the Phillies owned the Baker Bowl at Broad and Lehigh streets, across from what is now SEPTA’s North Broad Station. There’s a historical marker at the site that recalls its history from 1887 until the Phillies moved six blocks west to Shibe Park.

 

#2: Last year, the Phillies sold 3.6 million tickets. Going into the 2012 season, Phillies ticketing director John Weber and his staff have already managed to sell 3.2 million with the team riding a 204-game sellout streak.

#3: Baseball almost returned north of Market Street back in 2000 where a spot at 12th and Vine streets was considered for a downtown ballpark. At the time, it was expected to cost about $685 million, including land acquisition, demolition and construction of parking garages and required highway improvements. By comparison, Citizens Bank Park cost $458 million to build.

 

#4: In 2007, the Phillies averaged 38,374 fans per home game—eighth in overall attendance. Since that time, they’ve been able to claim the top attendance title, edging out the New York Yankees by about 300 fans per game.

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