Xfinity amusement venue coming alive

    Xfinity Live! has opened to the public inside the footprint of the old Spectrum sports arena. It’s a bit smaller than first forecast.

    Actually, a lot smaller. The original plans for a 350,000-square-foot sprawl have shrunk to a 60,000-square-foot mall, filled with sports bars, retail venues, and the glitzy NBC Sports Arena, a fan’s dreamy Xanadu outfitted with a 32-foot HD television.

    Just 10 days before the opening of Xfinity Live!, the Philadelphia Planning Commission adopted a plan for the Lower South District, which includes the Sports Complex, FDR Park, the Navy Yard, and the Regional Port Authority. Compared with the economic impact of its industrial neighbors, Xfinity Live! is minor league, but the new district plan anticipates economic improvement due to the new entertainment mall.

    Even if it’s not as big as originally hyped, more could be on the way.

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    “I think the scaling back the initial phase was probably due in part to market conditions,” said Gary Jastrzab, executive director of the Philadelphia Planning Commission. “We would expect additional phases to be added over time. The master plan approval for the area calls ultimately for a hotel and the district plans makes room for other improvements.”

    Jastrzab expects traffic conditions to actually improve on game days. With fans coming earlier and staying later to hang out in Xfinity Live!, the crush of traffic will be spread over time, and thin out, he said..

    The $60 million Xfinity Live! was developed by Comcast Spectacor, which also funds the Sports Complex Special Services District, a nonprofit charged with improving the quality of the stadium environs and nearby FDR Park.

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