Packer Park: Debut of XFINITY Live! to generate more growth in Lower South

This article was created in partnership with Philadelphia Neighborhoods, Temple University’s capstone multimedia journalism class.

By Jade C. McKenzie and Connor Showalter

XFINITY Live! is scheduled to open on March 30 and is located in the Wells Fargo Center Complex.

The Sports Complex Special Services District will open its latest attraction—to add to Citizens Bank Park, Lincoln Financial Field and the Wells Fargo Center—XFINITY Live! on Friday.

The Lower South District’s sports complex annually generates millions of visitors and vehicle trips, according to the Lower South District plan adopted by the Philadelphia City Planning Commission on March 20, which can be found here. The plan discusses the district’s potential to improve its population and employment growth through projects like XFINITY Live!

While the sports complex impacts wage taxes, sales taxes, parking revenues and other direct revenue sources, according to the Lower South District plan, the addition of XFINITY Live! may bring more visitors to Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park and cause overflow parking in the park’s lots.

XFINITY Live! is a dining and entertainment district, located within the Wells Fargo Center Complex, at Pattison Avenue and South 11th Street. The venue, which plans to attract visitors on non-event days in the sports complex, includes restaurants and shopping around a 24-foot-wide Sony LED video board that will show both sports games and “family friendly” movies, according to its website.

The PCPC recognizes in the district’s plan that while overflow parking at FDR Park provides “much needed revenue for the park, parking management and security “is not always provided.”

Lori Hayes, operations manager of FDR Park, said she cares for the park on a day-to-day basis. She said the park is looking to become more family-oriented.

“You can look and see there’s people walking and biking,” Hayes said. “In proximity of the sports complex, you want to have something nice to do. Maybe there’s time to be on the grass before you go to a game.”

FDR Park, located at South Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, includes 15 tennis courts, seven softball/baseball fields, a golf course and a skateboard park. The park was chosen as the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s 2011 “Greening the Neighborhood” site and will have $250,000 to use toward improving the quality of its lakes with aerators.

During the fall of 2011, the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s funding award with the help of several other sponsors allowed FDR Park to construct a new playground.

Children played on the recently constructed playground at FDR Park.

Vincent Piacentino, a resident of South Philadelphia, said he brings his children to the playground about two times a week. Piacentino said city officials should consider funding additional community projects.

“I think [the city] is trying to revitalize the park now since it’s such a big area,” Piacentino said. “This should have been done years ago to utilize [FDR Park] as a money-maker for the city.”

“The money they generate from [XFINITY Live!] should definitely be put back into the community,” Piacentino added. “It’s a no-brainier.”

FDR Park is one of two public recreation sites located in the Lower South. The other is Whitman Fields, which is owned by the Delaware River Port Authority, at Sixth Street.

Molly McNeil, a local resident of 22nd and Synder streets, who visits FDR Park on a daily basis, said the district should have additional public recreational spaces for its local residents.

“It’s hard to get down [to FDR Park] from where I live,” said McNeil, who needs to drives to the park. “They should add another play area on the other side of the park.”

According to the district’s plan, the PCPC is also interested in promoting FDR Park, along with XFINITY Live!, being as the park is on both the National Register and the Philadelphia Register of Historic Places. PCPC recommends providing revenue-generating activities in FDR Park as well as implementing designated parking locations and staffing to ensure ongoing park maintenance.

Hayes said a few upcoming events are scheduled to increase the number of visitors at FDR Park in the near future such as a Jerry Blavat concert on May 19, the Philadelphia Phillies’ front office plans to clean the park in early April

“We’re reaching out and we get a lot of support [at FDR Park],” Hayes said.

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