Comcast Spectacor unveils $2.5 billion master plan for South Philly sports complex. Here’s what’s in it

The announcement comes as the Sixers move forward with a proposal to build a downtown basketball arena.

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Master plan renderings for a revamped South Philly sports complex.

Master plan renderings for a revamped South Philly sports complex. (Comcast Spectacor)

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Over the next decade, Comcast Spectacor hopes to reimagine part of the South Philly sports complex into a year-round destination for work and play. Plans call for new retail and restaurants, a music venue and a hotel to start. If the full “dream” is realized, executives will also bring office buildings and new residential housing to the area.

Many of those projects will rise on existing parking lots outside the complex’s stadiums and arenas, including the Wells Fargo Center. The work is set to unfold over multiple phases and is expected to cost $2.5 billion, a price tag that will be shared by a variety of investors.

“It’s really a vision to bring a tentpole project to South Philadelphia and create a working, living neighborhood that is busy morning, noon and night,” said Phil Laws, president of the Wells Fargo Center.

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A rendering of a revamped South Philly sports complex
The first phase of the master plan will begin with upgrades to Xfinity Live!, and will include the construction of a hotel, a concert venue, restaurant and retail spaces, and a new outdoor plaza. (Comcast Spectacor)

The first phase of the master plan represents a $700 million investment. It’s slated to start “pretty soon” and wrap up by 2028. It begins with upgrades to Xfinity Live! but will also include the construction of a 250-room hotel, a 5,000-6,000-seat concert venue, restaurant and retail spaces, and a new outdoor plaza.

Xfinity Live! will undergo a $12 million renovation more than a decade after it opened where the Spectrum once stood. Construction on the music venue is expected to start next year. The facility, roughly a quarter of the size of the Wells Fargo Center, will welcome up-and-coming and more intimate acts. Work on the hotel will follow.

The second phase of the plan is considered aspirational for now. While Comcast has the right to build everything outlined in the first phase of the project, the company does not currently have the ability to build the 2,100 rental units in the plan It also lacks the development rights to move forward with any projects that would use the parking lots tied to Citizens Bank Park. Every space the plan builds upon will have to be replaced, meaning additional parking garages will need to be built for the full vision to be realized.

Despite the obstacles, Laws is optimistic that everything will fall into place.

“This is a commitment to our part of the sports complex. We will be in the sports complex as we have been for 50 years. I hope to be there another 50 years. We hope to cement that as a unit,” said Laws.

Arenas on arenas on arenas

The announcement follows the recently completed $400 million overhaul of the Wells Fargo Center. It also comes as the Sixers continue to work toward opening a new basketball arena in Center City near Chinatown. The team wants to move into a $1.55 billion facility in 2031, the year its lease ends at the Wells Fargo Center.

A spokesperson for 76 DevCorp, the team’s development arm, said in a statement that Comcast Spectacor has not “directly” engaged the Sixers on its development plans, adding that the announcement has “no bearing whatsoever on our plans to move to Market East.”

“We believe it is critical to discuss how development proposals such as this may serve as a catalyst for the future growth of Philadelphia, particularly if they are privately funded and have robust, meaningful benefits to the community and surrounding neighborhoods. We wish them well in their pursuits,” said spokesperson Amanda Conte.

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Laws acknowledged the Sixers’ push to leave South Philly may have played a role in the “relooking at this,” referring to the master plan. But he said the project should not in any way be viewed as a direct response to the proposed move, though Comcast Spectactor wants the team to stay put.

“It’s not connected to the Sixers or whether they stay or go. It’ll move forward because we like the project,” said Laws.

For now, the master plan doesn’t specifically call for a new arena, but does leave room for one. The Wells Fargo center is nearly 30 years old and will need to be replaced at some point, said Laws.

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