The Philadelphia Phillies, Flyers, 76ers and Eagles are all well placed in Southeastern Philadelphia in a location where you can walk to each facility. The Wells Fargo Center, Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Ballpark are all in a 3500-foot long triangle around each other on Pattison Avenue. All three are popular teams within the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs. Fans of sports teams in Philadelphia are pretty ravenous diehards. However, the area around the station is well, mediocre. This is where the city and the 4 teams need to invest some effort.
The triumvirate of stadiums has a grand total of one train station. Newly-renamed NRG Station at Pattison Avenue is the end of the Broad Street Line. While NRG station is built to handle the numerous amounts of fans that run through the station, it is definitely underserving for the neighborhood. An Eagles game can handle about 69,000 people. Of those 69,000 people, those who choose utilize public transportation have one line from downtown. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) has all of two buses in that area: the 4 and the 17.
The concept of buses and subway rail works to a point. Cities like NYC can handle crush for baseball, basketball, football and hockey because there are numerous options. Philadelphia has all four stations in one area with few public transit options. SEPTA cannot offer a regional rail option unless they make a deal with CSX Transportation. Right at the southern edge of the properties is a CSX yard and Interstate-95. Aside of lack of room and operation ability, any new station would require a lot of safety across I-95 on foot and via a bridge. This system is not working and there is not a clear solution.
That said, the other major problem with the area is that is a car-oriented area. There are 24 parking lots for all three stadiums. While this makes sense for Eagles games and some Phillies games, 24 lots are excessive. Some of this land could go to building up the area of South Philadelphia. This would be an obvious route for gentrification. In the northwest corner of the lots is a small working class area as part of the Packer Park neighborhood. Any serious gentrification project would cause people to lose their homes. This proposal should avoid doing that if at all possible.
On South 10 Street is a single hotel (a Holiday Inn). This needs to change. People who want to stay the weekend should have at least three hotel options. At Darien Street east of Citizens Bank Ballpark is a Special Services facility with razor ribbon fencing to prevent people from coming on the property. Razor ribbon fencing does not attract people to a neighborhood. Behind that building is a Sysco facility. The next block of Pattison Avenue has a completely empty area that could be used for serious redevelopment. It is another razor ribbon fenced off parking lot for construction. The plot is massive and takes up almost the entirety of the 1.75 million square foot city block. You could build no less than a bunch of hotels, restaurants and facilities right there, or even use it for more parking so you can build those same things elsewhere.
Next to Lincoln Financial Field is a large building in need of redevelopment. The 1.8 million square foot area is one that includes Lot M for the parking. In this situation, it would be worth sacrificing Lot M and the building there in favor of a brand facility to make people more interested in South Philadelphia. There is so much possibility with a lot of empty land. The 1.8 million square foot lot is right next to Interstate-95, so you can advertise to people driving by.
Ultimately, this comes down to money. The city of Philadelphia and the big four sports teams can start by investing in the neighborhood. This is prime real estate. We can maintain enough lots for drivers while taking some away. Aesthetics are everything in a sports complex. The city of Philadelphia has a good thing going, but they need serious work. Fans will spend at these places. We see that in St. Louis’ ballpark village. That is just for one team. Philadelphia has all four right there. Give people a reason to come to South Philadelphia.
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