Snider on public ice rinks, Flyers and Sixers

Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor , owner of the Flyers and Sixers, is helping restore the city's public ice rinks.
Ed Snider, chairman of Comcast-Spectacor , owner of the Flyers and Sixers, is helping restore the city's public ice rinks. (JERRY LODRIGUSS / Inquirer file photograph)
Posted: May 15, 2011

Ed Snider is a busy man. The Comcast-Spectacor chairman has a lot going on these days, and not just with the Flyers and Sixers.

The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation recently matched a $6.5 million grant from Pennsylvania's Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program to help restore and maintain Philadelphia's five public ice rinks. The project will also provide after-school recreation and education activities for children free of charge.

Snider talked to Page 2 about the project, as well as why there's "zero chance" the Flyers will make a "major overhaul," the Sixers' "step in the right direction," and the still-undetermined future of one key front-office executive.

Question: How did the program to update the city's ice rinks begin?

Answer: It started when we took over running the rinks when the city was going to close them. We've been running them ever since.

Because they're open air, they only operate from November to beginning of March. They were relatively dilapidated; not much money had been put in. We want to make them beautiful, up-to-date, modern-looking facilities. We want to provide ice for the kids, as well as educational rooms. Tutors. We want to help with their homework. All of these things, and all free of charge.

It's the only thing I've ever put my name on. I want it to be part of my legacy.

Q: Another huge part of your legacy was recently demolished. How difficult was it to finally say goodbye to the Spectrum?

A: It ended up being bricks and mortar in the end. To leave an empty shell would make no sense and it wouldn't satisfy me. I came to grips when I knew we had to do it. I have the memories, and I'm excited about the new project. It's still called Philly Live, but I'm calling it the world's largest sports bar. I think it will be incredible.

Q: What kind of year did the Flyers have, in your estimation?

A: Disappointing. That's the word. I think most every hockey fan, and all of us involved in the operation, particularly after last season and the first half of this season, had very high expectations. There was no satisfaction in it because we didn't go all the way.

Q: Since the season ended, there's been a lot of talk about chemistry, or the lack thereof, in the locker room. Do you think that's a problem for this team?

A: That's strictly an answer for [coach Peter] Laviolette. I don't stress or worry about it.

Q: Really? According to some people, you worry about the team quite a bit.

I want to read you a quote from Al Morganti. This is what he said on Comcast SportsNet about you the other day: "When Ed Snider gets up in the morning and it's cloudy, he calls God and says 'Where's the sun?' This is not a patient organization. It's like, let's get things done and let's get them done quickly."

A: [Laughs] I don't think I can change the clouds into sun, but other than that I am impatient. The whole reason for our existence is to try to win a championship. We try to do that every single year. Even though our last Cup win was in '75, we've been to the Finals many years. While we've had relative success and I think the fans think they get their money's worth most of the time, we want to win the Cup. If I didn't want to do that, I'd need to find something else to do.

We went into this year thinking that we were OK with our goalies, particularly with the addition of Sergei Bobrovsky - not to carry us, but as a nice addition. And our other goalies were involved in taking us to Stanley Cup championship series in the past.

We didn't feel we had major problems at the beginning of the year, and we didn't feel we had major problems when we were in first place. But we have problems, and we're evaluating how to fix them. We haven't finished that evaluation, but I believe we have enough of a core to build on.

Q: So for those fans or media who want you to blow it up or make major changes, you'd say . . . ?

A: I'd say that's ridiculous. There's absolutely no chance of us making a major overhaul. Zero chance.

Q: You said the Flyers' season was disappointing. What about the Sixers'?

A: It was a major, major step in the right direction. We have an outstanding coach [in Doug Collins]. If we give him the players he needs, he'll mold the team in a positive way.

Q: About the players: Were you disappointed in Andre Iguodala when he said he expected to be back in the NBA next year, but not necessarily back with the Sixers?

A: Iguodala probably has read a thousand articles about why we should trade him and why he's not worth the money. He's probably hedging his own bet. Don't forget, after that, he added he wanted to be with the same team his entire career. He's been put through the ringer by so-called basketball experts and writers. He certainly hasn't asked to be traded. I think it was an unfortunate interpretation of his words.

He's a good player. The proof is in the pudding - he was second-team all-defensive squad. You have to do two things in basketball. Try to score and try to defend. If you have someone who can keep the other guy from scoring, that's a valuable commodity.

Q: Ed Stefanski said something similar about Iguodala's game. What kind of job do you think Stefanski did this year [as general manager]?

A: I don't think we made any decisions this year except for the draft. Ed was very responsible in hiring Doug Collins and drafting [Jrue] Holiday and [Evan] Turner.

Q: Stefanski has another year left on his contract. Will he be back next year?

A: This is this year. We evaluate everything on an annual basis.

Q: So you're not ready to decide yet?

A: No. But it's up to [team president] Rod Thorn. That decision wouldn't be made by me, anyway.

Q: But, ostensibly, at some point that decision reaches your level, right?

A: Yes, but he hasn't come to me, because he's in the process of evaluating also.

We want to see personnel-wise where we go first, but we know what our needs are. First, we'd like to get a big man in the middle. That's obviously the most difficult thing to do. They don't just grow them anymore. [Laughs] It's weird.

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