PHILADELPHIA — Sports stadiums are a big deal for cities.
They cost a lot of money to build, their teams inspire passion among fans and loathing among rivals, they spur significant revenue among restaurants and other businesses in the vicinity, and they draw traffic like honey draws bees. We know all this well in Seattle.
In Philadelphia on Sunday, I saw the upsides.
The Phillies and New York Mets squared off on the baseball diamond in early afternoon. On a brilliant sunny day, two rival teams with vocal fan bases went at it at Citizens Bank Park. The park cost $346 million to build, split equally between public and private financing, and opened in 2004. It is a beautiful park that reminds me of Safeco Field.
Safeco in Seattle cost well over $500 million and opened five years earlier than the Phillies one. It’s a spectacular park too. Just a much, much, much more expensive one.
Right next door to Citizens Bank Park — and I mean right next door — the Flyers hockey team on Sunday hosted its despised rival, the Pittsburgh Penguins, in an NHL playoff game. Outside it was 70+ degrees, but in the Wells Fargo Center it was chilly and rocking. The arena also is host to the NBA’s 76ers team.
Adjacent to these stadiums sits Lincoln Financial Field, where the NFL’s Eagles play on Sundays in autumn. On this day, the parking lots that offer 21,000+ for these three stadiums were filled with red and white-adorned Phils fans and orange and black-decked out Flyers fans. Having a shared parking area for the stadiums seems pretty smart to me.
There has been much discussion in Seattle lately about building an arena to house both an NBA and NHL teams. Philadelphia might be a place to look for an example of how the city might well do it, both in layout and budget.