Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Will Comcast-Spectacor's plans for hockey arena haunt taxpayers?

It's early in the search process, but already three areas have expressed interest in becoming the new home for the Phantoms minor-league hockey team.

Will Comcast-Spectacor's plans for hockey arena haunt taxpayers?

Apparently, you can never have enough sports arenas.

Comcast-Spectacor L.P. may be early in its search for a new arena for the Philadelphia Phantoms, but I’m already worried about how much this one’s going to cost me.

Enclosed arenas and outdoor stadiums as well as concert halls and museums - they all get built with a healthy dose of public funding.

Now the Phantoms are a minor-league hockey team, so we’re not talking about a giant arena.

But let’s talk about the Giant Center in Hershey. Right next to the Sweetest Place on Earth, the Hershey Bears play their home games in a $75 million arena that also hosts concerts and other events.

Opened in October 2002, it seats about 10,500 for hockey. That’s about the size that Comcast-Spectacor has in mind.

Care to guess how much Gov. Ridge put the taxpayers down for in December 1999? Try $25 million.

In today’s dollars, the Giant Center would cost $95.8 million, and the state’s portion would be $31.9 million.

I was feeling stadium fatigue before Comcast-Spectacor made the decision to demolish the Spectrum (which was built in 1966 for $7 million, or an inflation-adjusted $47.5 million).

Pennsylvania tossed in about $18 million for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ $49.5 million minor-league baseball stadium. The public dollars committed to the $115 million soccer stadium and $385 million in surrounding development planned for Chester total at least $87 million. Chester County boosters are itching to build their own multimillion-dollar minor-league baseball stadium.

I can complain about the heavy cost of subsidizing professional sports, but I have little hope reason will triumph over fandom.

Comcast-Spectacor has dropped the puck. Camden County, Atlantic City and Allentown are already chasing it. Can Philadelphia be far behind?

Philly Ticker

Peco’s parent company, Exelon Corp., saw its shares fall almost 16 percent last week.

The Chicago utility had announced that it would be buying back $1.5 billion worth of its shares over the next six months. And that’s usually a positive sign for shareholders.

However, management also revised its earnings outlook and indicated that profits may not rise in 2009. Oops. Several analysts who track Exelon cut their profit estimates. Shares sank 8 percent, or $5.65, Friday to close at $64.97.

Earnings

Today: C&D Technologies, Willow Financial

Tuesday: Pep Boys - Manny, Moe & Jack, Nobel Learning Communities

Thursday: Campbell Soup

Friday: Orlean Homebuilders.

Quotable

The election kick that’s coming up should help the D.C. market since both parties espouse a need for change, that means change in people. Traditionally, everybody that’s changed out becomes a consultant and stays and a host come in and there’s a need for more housing.

- Robert I. Toll, chairman and CEO of Toll Bros. Inc., on a conference call with analysts talking about prospects for Washington, the builder’s biggest market.

Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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Mike Armstrong Inquirer Columnist
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