Standing before a giant red banner with the words Xfinity Live!, executives from Comcast-Spectacor and Cordish Cos. on Thursday unveiled a sports-themed entertainment and dining district on the site of the old Spectrum at the South Philadelphia stadium complex.
The project's $60 million first phase will feature about a dozen restaurants - including Chickie's & Pete's, Victory Brewing Co., Nick's Roast Beef, and the Original Philadelphia Cheesesteak Co. - and bars with stages for live bands.
The developers intend for the district to become a destination of its own, beyond serving patrons that would gather before and after sports events.
Xfinity Live! also takes the marketing synergy between sports and corporations to a new level. Comcast-Spectacor owns the Flyers, as well as the Wells Fargo Center, home arena for the hockey team and the 76ers.
"This is the first phase of a phenomenal development," Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider said from a raised stage at the site. "I can't wait for it to open in a little more than three months. We're confident it will be a tremendous success."
Xfinity Live! is scheduled to open its doors April 5, to coincide with the NHL playoffs and the start of the Phillies' season, according to those involved in its construction.
Among its offerings: An Xfinity on Demand Theater, an outdoor viewing experience that will feature everything from games to family movies; the NBC Sports Arena, featuring a high-tech 32-foot-diagonal screen; the NBC Sports Field, which will host outdoor activities and sports leagues; and something called the NBC Sports Game Experience, driven by video games and taking place in a new Broad Street Bullies Pub.
When it opens, the project's Phase 1 will create 750 jobs. There are plans for future expansions.
Baltimore-based Cordish - a developer of similar dining, retail, and entertainment districts in other U.S. cities - entered into a partnership with Comcast-Spectacor to build the complex. Snider said that financing was 50-50 between the two and that no public subsidies were involved.
"We wanted to build on the vibrancy and potential of what this city represents and what these stadiums around us represent," said Reed Cordish, vice president of Cordish Cos., sitting on stage next to his father, David Cordish.
The development will feature six anchors, Reed Cordish said. One, The Marketplace, will host several of the first-phase restaurants and bars, which include Spectrum Grille, an upscale restaurant, and PBR Bar & Grill, with a country-western theme featuring a mechanical bull at night. Victory Beer Hall will offer a stage for live indoor entertainment and a 2,000-square-foot patio with a fire pit.
The complex's name reflects "Comcast's continuing commitment to the development and a way for them to utilize their brands, including NBC Sports," Reed Cordish said.
Xfinity Live! has the potential to become a "fourth stadium experience," Snider said, complementing its neighbors Wells Fargo Center, Citizens Bank Park, and Lincoln Financial Field.
Xfinity Live! will be open 365 days a year, said Snider, and will cater not only to sports enthusiasts, but also to employees at the Navy Yard and travelers along I-95. Originally called Philly Live!, the project was first announced in January 2008, pending the demolition of the storied Spectrum.
"Everything was planned all along, consciously, years ago," Snider said. "We put it on hold with the economic downturn.
"The downturn in the economy impacted everything," he said. "That's why we decided, instead of building it outright, to build it in phases."
David Cordish, chairman and chief executive officer of Cordish Cos., said this was his firm's first climate-controlled development.
"This allows us to be open 12 months of the year," he said, acknowledging that would allow the project to grow its customer base.
Two thousand to 3,000 new parking spaces are planned, and 20,000 total spaces will be set aside for patrons. When there are no sports events, parking will be free, the developers said. On event days, it will be free one hour after the start of the final event.
"This is a tiny piece of what you'll have here," David Cordish said. "There will be a Phase 2 and a Phase 3. This will become a living room for Philly and create a sense of place."