Thousands assisted a ballyhooed blend of eateries and pastimes to celebrate its full debut.
Reed Cordish had metaphors on his mind during Friday afternoon’s official opening of Xfinity Live! Philadelphia, 1100 Pattison Ave., a $60 million entertainment district more than four years in the making.
“Look around, and you will see incredible stadiums and a great arena,” the vice president of Baltimore’s The Cordish Companies said in referring to Citizens Bank Park, 1 Citizens Bank Way; Lincoln Financial Field, 1101 Pattison Ave.; and the Wells Fargo Center, 3601 S. Broad St., as attendees anticipated enjoying the 55,000-square-foot mix of interior and exterior establishments and diversions. “They are your cathedrals. Xfinity Live! is thrilled to become your living room.”
Cordish, whose business ranks as the country’s largest entertainment entity developer, commemorated his family’s first stadium-area project with partnering personnel from Comcast-Spectacor and Mayor Michael Nutter. Their commitment to furthering Philadelphia’s reputation as a prime sports center and leisure location helped work to end ahead of schedule and to make last weekend a sensory symbol of the sports complex’s possibilities.
“It has exceeded my wildest expectations,” Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider, who had foreseen opening today yet asked Cordish to have efforts finished for last week’s two Bruce Springsteen shows at the Wells Fargo Center, said.
The 16-year-old facility, home to the Sixers and Flyers, for whom he serves as chairmen, enabled Snider to aid the City’s quest for a connector to spur economic growth. He found that link in 2007, uniting with the Maryland corporation responsible for similar spots in Atlantic City, Baltimore, Houston and St. Louis.
“This is the realization of the vision of so many great people,” Cordish said before deferring to Nutter, a jobs advocate sure to rejoice over Xfinity Live’s! creation of 800 full-time positions.
Feet from the beginning of the Walk of Champions, a path that leads to the new enclosure and that includes statues of Flyers Hall of Fame center Bobby Clarke and Sixers Hall of Fame forward Julius Irving, Nutter praised Philadelphia as the only city whose four major athletic teams play within a half-mile radius of one another.
“There has been so much progress in the area over the last 16 years,” he said. “Let’s go celebrate the latest example.”
Nutter joined the moguls, including Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko, to flip an oversized “Live!” switch that signaled their brainchild’s official status, with all peering at a fireworks display.
“Everything turned out far better than the renderings,” Luukko said of the initiative, whose leaders he noted will explore adding a hotel in their next planning phase. “I am so eager for all to enjoy.”
He dubbed The Broad Street Bullies Pub, complete with the memorabilia from the Flyers’ top period, which yielded Stanley Cup championships in 1974 and ’75, his top destination, as did Mitchell Nichols of the 2800 block of Morris Street.
“I think they’ll win the Cup this year, too, but it’s great to see some old stuff,” the Grays Ferry resident said as he inspected samples of the franchise’s lore, including a cartoon depiction of the ’76 exhibition victory over the Soviet Red Army Team. “The atmosphere here is relaxed and should draw nice crowds for music, beer and food.”
Nichols’ favorite haunt is situated among Chickie’s & Pete’s, Nick’s Roast Beef and The Original Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co., the components of The Philly Marketplace, Xfinity Live’s! centerpiece. They enjoyed a steady stream of patrons and seem destined to sate the cravings of the 5,000 consumers who can occupy the total space.
When mouths were not busy chewing food, they were spewing praise on how impressively the internal and external amenities struck them. No location lacked action, with the Spectrum Grille earning plaudits from seafood and steak lovers and the Victory Beer Hall receiving kudos from eager imbibers. The latter’s selection, live entertainment and 2,000-square-foot patio featuring a fire pit led Stacy Vargas to declare the other areas pretenders to the hall’s crown.
“It’s brilliant here,” the resident of the 500 block of Carpenter Street said. “I’m going to make this whole weekend a celebration of this new vibe in my hometown.”
The Queen Village dweller planned to let the afternoon slip into the evening by sampling something from each space and winding down by watching the night’s free concert with the alternative rock band Third Eye Blind, a late ’90s hit maker. Her passion for the grounds bears the same sort of intensity that Snider had hoped to have apparent by asking Cordish to speed up preparations.
“They are great partners,” Cordish said of Snider and Luukko after giving his family a tour of the district, which held a music festival and entertained viewers of the Flyers’ loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Sixers’ win over the Atlanta Hawks and the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament’s semifinal tilts Saturday. “What we have helped to create is a model for development around stadiums that will be looked at all across the country and maybe internationally. It will put Philadelphia very much on the forefront.”
Cordish then dined with his clan in the interior section of the NBC Sports Arena. The space offers a 32-foot diagonal LED HD television, with LED Rings displaying a sports ticker. The exterior’s On Demand Theater calls on a 24-foot-wide LED videoboard to show family-oriented movies and sports duels. Friday’s attendees also enjoyed assorted games on a 100-yard artificial turf field.
Having resided outside of South Philly for only eight months of his 33 years, Paul C. Stricker has firm ideas on what it needs to thrive. Knowing money usually fuels progress for its neighborhoods, he has classified concepts as helpful or detrimental and always has considered casinos catastrophic.
What are your thoughts on the opening of Xfinity Live! later this month?
With the Flyers off to a fantastic start and Jimmy Rollins’ decision to remain with the Phillies, early April visitors to the South Philadelphia sports complex figure to arrive with abundant expectations. Hoping to pair the area’s athletic prowess with culinary and entertainment options, Comcast-Spectacor, The Cordish Companies and Comcast Corp. representatives united at 1100 Pattison Ave. to disclose the first phase components of Xfinity Live! Philadelphia Dec. 15. Their project stands to use the address as a hub for 55,000 square feet of enjoyment and ingenuity.
If good things truly come to those who wait, entertainment enthusiasts in South Philadelphia will become supreme revelers in 2012.
Philly’s conventional wisdom
Mummers making changes
Making the Italian Market last