Stop us if you’ve heard this one before: Comcast Spectacor, owner of the Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center, has big plans to develop the swathes of parking lots surrounding the stadia in South Philly. Per an article yesterday from the Philadelphia Business Journal, it seems as if there is a renewed push to activate the area once again. Let’s remind ourselves of what the area looks like today and some of the past proposals before we get to the news.

A look towards Center CIty with the complex and the past plans

After plans for a large entertainment complex were scaled back to the current Xfinity Live configuration, a few other ideas have come and gone. A Museum of Sports was proposed and then disappeared, along with plans for a mid-rise office building that met a similar fate. Perhaps the biggest news that didn’t happen was the planned eSports arena for the long-gone Fusion, which has since been changed to a mid-sized, multi-purpose venue, though no details have come since those plans were announced. Additionally, a non-Comcast related entity had plans for a mixed-use proposal on the edge of the complex next to the Live! Casino, though those plans have similarly gone nowhere, it seems.

The Museum of Sports was proposed next to Lincoln Financial Field
A mid-rise office proposal that has come and gone
Renderings of the old eSports arena proposal
A mixed-use proposal next to the Live! Casino

So, what’s on tap for this asphalt haven? It sure seems like something big, given some of the numbers: 500K sqft of office space, 460K sqft of retail, the aforementioned 5,500-seat arena, 2,000 new multi-family units, and 500 hotel rooms across multiple spots. Additionally, a whopping 10,000 structured parking spaces will be included, making up for the loss of surface parking spaces. Again, details are scant, as these master plans were presented to the Sports Complex Special Services District, which has acted as a community advocacy group since the early Aughts.

Color us skeptical here, as this seems like a major, major jump to make from a bar in a parking lot to a new home for thousands of people. Comcast Spectacor recently completed a $400-million reinvention of the existing arena – a tidy sum indeed. And we’d imagine that plans of this scale would involve numbers easily in the billion-plus range, a seemingly risky move given the possibility of losing a long-term tenant. The proposed timelines are also wildly unrealistic, as these plans were pitched to be ready for the huge summer of 2026, when the Semiquincentennial celebration will bring the World Cup, the All-Star game, and more to the city. For a project of this scale, it would be impressive if ground was even broken by then, let alone having completed structures ready for visitors as we welcome the world to South Philly. It sure seems like this might be a response to another project we’ve covered on more than one occasion.

An aerial look at the 76 Place arena and residential tower proposal

While we hope these are indeed legitimate plans, they seem to us to be more of a response to the Sixers’ potential move than an honest-to-goodness proposal for the future. Given the tricky office environment at the moment, half-a-million sqft of space specifically for that seems odd at best, completely misguided at worst. Hotels and multi-family, paired with a mix of retail and experiential spaces, seem to make sense, especially if designed with transit access in mind. Since we last checked in here over a year back, however, there has been nary a tangible sign of progress aside from this mysterious presentation. So, until we see some real deal plans, this seems more like vaporware than a genuine reinvention for the area.