Peter Luukko, the President and COO of Comcast-Spectacor who oversees most day-to-day operations of the Flyers, spoke with Justin Johnson of The Hockey Writers yesterday in a lengthy sit-down interview. Among the topics discussed were the job Paul Holmgren's done as general manager and the expected progress of the Philly Live! project.
Philly Live! will be built on the site of the Spectrum and the current H lot between the Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Park, also known as that big patch of pavement between the Spectrum and WFC that nobody is allowed to park in.
Luukko has said in the past that the first-phase of the project will be completed in time for baseball season in 2012, but there have been rumors that the economy will lead to a scaled-back version of the development, which is expected to house bars, restaurants and retail space. In the interview with THW, Luukko alluded to the scaled-back nature of the development, as well as the fact that the originally-planned hotel might not be built right away.
I think the misnomer is that we had this plan where we were going to build everything at once. It was really a master plan of "Here's what this could be." There's no pressure on us internally or externally for that matter, to just develop for the sake of developing. We're starting out with 50,000 square feet of bars and restaurants. We have the potential for a hotel at some point. Certainly the economy has to be right and the timing has to be right, but I see this developing over time. I don't necessarily have a timeframe. I think the first phase of Philly Live! is going to be exciting and fun and great for the fans. It's an amenity which is sorely needed down here. The time is right.
Luukko also said that the decision to knock down the Spectrum was two-fold. They desire develop the property with Philly Live! was vital in the decision, of course, but at the same time, he said that the Spectrum was no longer profitable.
Also, from an economic standpoint, the Spectrum was no longer profitable. It was time to move on. It was a combination of two factors. One was the opportunity of Philly Live! and secondly was the Spectrum really serviceable? For years we found every single excuse to keep it alive because it was Ed Snider's baby and we all grew up there.
It really is a highly recommended read. Luukko has some complimentary words for his general manager as well as comments on that whole "Ed Snider is keeping the NHL on Versus" thing.