The blending of sports, entertainment and retail is a hot trend in many cities across America, and now Philadelphia is poised to try the same recipe for success that other cities have enjoyed.
In their keynote speeches at the upcoming PA/NJ/DE Idea Exchange, Philadelphia's two mayoral candidates are likely to mention the current debate over the placement of Philadelphia's proposed new baseball and football stadiums for their home teams, the Phillies and the Eagles. Whichever proposal is finally accepted, the projects are expected to include a significant amount of retail development.
The timeliness of the topic made it an obvious pick for one of the three lengthier panel discussions scheduled for the first day of the Idea Exchange. The panel on "Sport Venues and Retail: A Winning Team" will be led by Doug Grayson, executive vice president of Philadelphia-based Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT).
Recently, the state of Pennsylvania approved a portion of the funding for the two new sports venues, but the city of Philadelphia faces a difficult decision, Grayson explains. "Do you build the public infrastructure and let private enterprise drive the ancillary development, or do you view a new sports facility as the catalyst for creating a whole new environment in the city?" he says. City planners expect the issue to be resolved shortly after the election.
The current trend, however, goes beyond the stadium proposals. Several more projects have been proposed in urban Philadelphia and its surrounding area that will blend sports, entertainment and retail in new ways. All are due to open during the next couple of years.
Along the northern tier of the city's waterfront, the newest phase of Penn's Landing is being developed by Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group in conjunction with locally based Penn's Landing Corp. The 580,000 sq. ft. project will include a shopping mall, skating and hockey complex, children's museum, AMC and IMAX theaters, restaurants and an outdoor amphitheater, says Paul Katz, senior leasing representative for Simon.
Penn's Landing will be linked by an aerial tram to the New Jersey waterfront and a new project taking shape there called Sports Port. King of Prussia, Pa.-based Kravco Company is developing the $150 million, 1 million sq. ft. mixed-use sports, entertainment and retail complex on a former industrial site in Camden, next to the New Jersey State Aquarium. The development will tie together the aquarium and newly opened Camden Children's Garden with a Sony Blockbuster Entertainment Center and 6,000-seat minor league baseball stadium.
According to Joe Esposito, vice president of development for Kravco, plans for the high-tech sports entertainment project also call for a hotel and conference center, marina, restaurants, gift shops and sports-related retail. All are expected to be completed by summer 2001.
In downtown Philadelphia, a partnership of PREIT and The Goldenberg Group, Philadelphia, is developing the third DisneyQuest project in the country. Described as a five-story, 85,000 sq. ft. virtual-reality indoor theme park, the project also will include a movie theater, theme restaurants and specialty retail.
"Its location at Eighth and Market streets is part of an up-and-coming entertainment area centrally located between the city's new convention center and the Liberty Bell Pavilion, both strong magnets for the city," says Robert Freedman, vice president and general counsel for Goldenberg.