Philly Live! to Feature World's Largest Indoor TV Screen (UPDATED)

Philly Live! to Feature World's Largest Indoor TV Screen (UPDATED)

*Please read the update to this post at the very bottom of the post.*

Whenever I head down to the sports complex I am curious to see how much things have progressed with Philly Live!, the mixed-use entertainment development being built where the Spectrum once stood. The initial plans were quite ambitious, but due to the economy have been scaled back a bit. Beyond the glossy artist’s renderings I hadn’t seen a whole lot of specifics about what it’d actually be like.

Without the all-time great BLove of Phillyskyline.com to rely on, I was forced to do some digging on my own. To my surprise, I came across a recent Main Line Media News interview with Lou Scheinfeld, who is Vice President of Development at Comcast-Spectacor.

I was alternately encouraged and dismayed at some of the specifics. I suppose the most logical place to start is when is it actually scheduled to open? The answer, according to the article, is April 1, 2012. Kind of hard to believe that’s only five months away, but it’d certainly make sense that they’d want it open in time for the playoffs (both NHL and NBA).

Additional details, including news on a massive HD television and restaurants after the Jump…

You can read the full interview, but here are a few highlights.

Main Line Media News: I understand Philly Live! is going to have the largest indoor TV screen in  the world?  

Scheinfeld: In the main room, and this is a 55,000 square foot building, which is more than three  times the size of a hockey rink, will be the world's largest indoor TV screen. It's 21 feet wide and  14 feet deep. It not only high-def, but it's known as six-meter, which is the crispest picture you  can get. On both sides will be nine 52-inch screens, which can show more games.

I am all in favor of a giant TV. Seriously, the bigger the TV the better. Also, it’s got to be good if its dimensions are expressed in both metric and U.S. customary units. TV’s sound good, so what about the food? Well….

Main Line Media News: You mentioned that 8 1/2 million people come to the Philadelphia sports complex every year. That's a lot of people to be fed. What restaurants will be featured at  Philly Live?  

Scheinfeld: Philly Live! will feature four major restaurants. One is the Spectrum Grill, which is a  high-end steakhouse; we will have the Professional Bull Riders Restaurant, which is a Tex-Mex  restaurant with a mechanical bull; we'll have a German beer hall with the long tables and  peanut shells; and the fourth is the Broad Street Bullies Bar.

Now, this is the part that was disappointing. I am all for the concept of a German beer hall, but all four of the restaurants sound a bit Hard Rock Café/airport terminal-ish. I’ll reserve judgment until they, you know, actually open, but it does not sound promising. Philadelphia is such a great food city. Why not tap local chefs and restaurateurs to bring an authentic Philly flavor? I demand crab fries, dammit!

UPDATE: Looks like there will be a Chickie's and Pete's at the new Philly Live! after all.

I may be getting bent out of shape about nothing – the article is silent as to exactly who will be running these places – but I am skeptical. Unfortunately, this article, detailing 4th Street Live! in Louisville, Kentucky, did little to allay my fears.

The rest of the project will be completed in phases. Phase Two may include a Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame, which would be very cool. Phase Three may include a hotel. Naturally, Ed Snider, I mean Mr. Snider, would apparently like it to be a four-star hotel. Perhaps you can overpay for the Chris Gratton suite.

I don’t mean to sound completely underwhelmed. As mentioned, I’ll reserve judgment, but it sounds like it lacks that certain authentic Philly character. I am not sure if that makes sense, but one way to think of it is to imagine the feeling you get when you’re in Citizens Bank Park versus Lincoln Financial Field.

CBP just feels authentically Philly. For reasons I cannot explain, the Linc does not. It’s just a building, a nice building, where the Eagles play football. Where’s Inga Saffron when I need her?

I’d be curious to read your thoughts. What would you like to see? Does the plan as outlined above sound good? Bad? Do you not care so long as you no longer have to use Porta Potty’s over in FDR Park?

UPDATE2: After running this post on Philly Live! a representative from Comcast-Spectacor contacted me and alerted me that some of the development details contained in the post which we quoted from the Main Line Media News were inaccurate. He did not get into specifics, but was certain to point out that the project will indeed have a much more local Philly flavor than disclosed in this post.

Based on the comments to the post we’d say that’s certainly welcome news. He was able to share that details are being finalized, and should be released in the next couple of weeks. We’ll obviously have more information for you once it’s available.

In the meantime, as mentioned originally, we’ll reserve judgment until everything has been finalized.

Cesar Hernandez remains a person of interest as Phillies look to improve

Cesar Hernandez remains a person of interest as Phillies look to improve

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Phillies have completed the signing of veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit to a one-year, $7.5 million contract (see story). The deal could be announced Tuesday and will require the club removing a player from the already-full 40-man roster.

Benoit is one of three additions that the Phils have made to their bullpen this offseason — the club traded for veteran right-hander Pat Neshek and picked up lefty David Rollins on waivers — and more will likely come, probably on minor-league contracts, before the team reports to spring training.

Now that the bullpen has been addressed, let’s take a look at what could be next for the Phillies this winter.

• The addition of Benoit could create enough back-end bullpen depth that GM Matt Klentak could look to trade either Jeanmar Gomez or Hector Neris. Gomez saved 37 games in 2016, but struggled down the stretch. Neris showed great promise in recording a 2.58 ERA and striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings in 79 games in 2016. The hard-throwing righty is young (27), talented and inexpensive so the Phils would have to be overwhelmed by an offer to move him. Last year, Klentak moved a young closer in Ken Giles for a significant return from Houston, so he has history in making these types of moves.

• In addition to more potential comings and goings in the bullpen, the Phils will look to add a backup infielder and maybe a backup catcher in the coming weeks. Andres Blanco could return as that extra infielder. A.J. Ellis could return as the catcher. But nothing is firm. In fact, Klentak hinted Monday that he’d be comfortable bringing Andrew Knapp up from Triple A to be the backup catcher next season.

“I don’t think we need a veteran backup catcher,” Klentak said. “If it works out, we’re open-minded to that. But Andrew Knapp just finished his age 25 season in Triple A. He has a full year of at-bats in Triple A. At some point for both he and (Jorge) Alfaro, we’re going to have to find out what those guys can do at the big-league level. During the 2017 season, we’ll have to find out — not just about those two guys — but others.”

• One of the biggest remaining issues facing Phillies management this winter centers around the outfield and the offense. Basically, Klentak and his advisers are weighing the merits of adding another veteran hitter — the club already traded for Howie Kendrick — to improve the offense or giving a significant playing opportunity to a promising youngster and potential future core piece such as Roman Quinn in what currently projects to be one opening in the outfield.

“That topic is the one that we have spent the most time discussing, not just here but this offseason, about striking the right balance between adding a veteran bat or veteran free agent to this team to make our team better, but again, not taking playing time away from players that need the playing time.

“That’s part of the dynamic that we have to consider there. Roman Quinn came up at the end of the year and, at times, looked like a legitimate major-league contributor. But we also have to be mindful of the fact that he hasn’t logged a single at-bat at Triple A yet.

“This doesn’t have an obvious answer. We are continuing to talk about trade acquisitions and talk to agents for free agents to see if the right opportunity exists to blend all those factors together. But what we do not want to do is bring in so many veterans that we are denying opportunities to our young players.”

This brings us to a situation that could potentially satisfy the team’s desire to improve the offense without taking away a playing opportunity from Quinn.

J.D. Martinez of the Detroit Tigers is an outfield bat that the Phillies like. They like his production and the fact that he’s signed for just 2017. In other words, he wouldn’t block a young prospect’s pathway to the majors, at least for long.

Martinez, owed $11.75 million, which is very affordable for the Phillies, is a serious trade candidate for the cost-cutting Tigers and the Phillies have spoken to Tigers officials, dating to the early part of the offseason.

According to sources, the Phillies and Tigers could be a trade fit if the Tigers were to deal second baseman Ian Kinsler. If the Tigers move Kinsler, they could look to move Martinez to the Phillies for second baseman Cesar Hernandez. Phillies officials have said they are in no hurry to deal Hernandez, but the team does have depth at second with a pair of prospects (Scott Kingery and Jesmuel Valentin) on the way and a ready-made stopgap in Kendrick at the position. 

So keep an eye on Kinsler. If he moves, the Phillies could pursue the veteran bat that would make their offense better. And it would not cost Quinn an opportunity as he could play left field with Kendrick moving to second.