*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.