The $100 million entertainment complex that would replace the Spectrum in South Philadelphia is a promising idea for an under-used city landscape.
In fact, the proposal is such a good one that it prompts another: If there is going to be legalized gambling in Philadelphia, why not make the Foxwoods slots parlor part of the project?
The stadium-complex location is accessible to city and suburban residents. The infrastructure is already in place and provides good highway access and plenty of parking. There’s also access to public transportation.
A slots parlor seems like a natural fit for the existing and planned entertainment uses. The stadium location for Foxwoods would also end the current logjam that has delayed the project at the Center City site.
Foxwoods has proposed opening at the old Strawbridge’s department store at Eighth and Market Streets, but has yet to obtain a lease. The location faces fierce opposition from residents, and other hurdles.
By comparison, the stadium complex is an underused area that’s largely away from residential areas. Adding the slots parlor would provide another anchor attraction for the proposed bars and restaurants, especially when there are no games in town.
One of the investors in Foxwoods is Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor, which is developing the entertainment project at the stadium complex.
A similar idea was implemented in Pittsburgh, where a slots parlor next to the professional sports arenas is part of a lively entertainment zone.
The current plan in South Philadelphia, known as Philly Live!, calls for a $100 million entertainment center in the midst of the Wachovia Center, Citizens Bank Park, and Lincoln Financial Field. Much of the 350,000-square-foot venue would be built where the Spectrum is now located.
Comcast-Spectacor and the Cordish Co. want to create a two-block-long center of shops, restaurants, bars, and possibly a boutique hotel, similar to Baltimore’s thriving Power Plant Live! at the Inner Harbor.
Even in the current form, there are some questions to be addressed, including controlling the additional traffic and crowds, and ensuring that the area doesn’t turn into a destination for drunkenness and violence. (See below.)
Eagles fans are notoriously rowdy, thanks to long afternoons of boozing. The atmosphere at Phillies games has become noticeably more beer-fueled as well.
The fear is that building more bars around the stadiums can lead to more unruly behavior, such as the parking-lot fight involving drunken fans tossed from the Phillies game Saturday, which resulted in a 22-year-old Lansdale man’s beating death.
That’s not a reason to stop the project, but it’s an issue that needs to be confronted to ensure a friendly atmosphere for the broader majority of fans.
The existing complex near South Broad Street and Pattison Avenue is functional for fans of the Phillies, Eagles, and Flyers, but otherwise the area is barren and underused.
Philadelphia Live! aims to make the locale a vibrant, year-round destination. A slots parlor could be a win-win.