Xfinity Live schedules events to draw customers despite loss of Flyers games

Xfinity Live, near the Wells Fargo Center, drew about 2,500 patrons on nights the Flyers played home games late last season, the complex's marketing executive said.
Xfinity Live, near the Wells Fargo Center, drew about 2,500 patrons on nights the Flyers played home games late last season, the complex's marketing executive said. (SAM CARCHIDI / Staff)
Posted: October 07, 2012

The Flyers aren't the only ones taking a hit from the owner-imposed NHL lockout, which on Thursday caused the cancellation of the season's first two weeks.

Businesses around the Wells Fargo Center are expected to suffer as they lose revenue from Flyers fans who would have spent money in their establishments before, during, and after games. Xfinity Live Philadelphia, the restaurant/bar/entertainment complex that opened March 30 and is down the street from the Wells Fargo Center, figures to be the hardest hit.

To combat the loss of fan traffic, Xfinity Live - part-owned by the Flyers' parent company, Comcast-Spectacor - is scheduling events that it hopes will draw customers.

For every Flyers home game that is lost during the lockout, "we will have some sort of special event here," said Rob Johnson, vice president of marketing for Xfinity Live. The NHL announced that regular-season games from Thursday through Oct. 24 have been canceled.

Plans include showing the HBO documentary Broad Street Bullies and Flyers trivia quiz nights that offer prizes to winners. Xfinity Live is also looking into having Flyers coaches do a chalk talk and having Flyers alumni visit.

Flyers season-ticket holders may be offered discounts to the entire complex, which features six bars/eateries, Johnson said.

Still, it will be no easy task trying to replace those who flocked to the complex after Flyers home games. And with the Phillies missing the playoffs, Xfinity Live has lost more potential customers.

Johnson, who said Xfinity Live does not plan any layoffs during the lockout, said the complex drew about 2,500 patrons on nights the Flyers played home games late last season. Some came before or after they attended the game; others came to watch the game on the 32-foot, high-definition TV screen.

"Flyers fans really embraced us from the moment we opened," Johnson said.

Xfinity Live had hoped to build on its momentum from the last hockey season.

"We opened right before the playoffs started, and this place was insane for the playoffs," said Guta Braga, operations manager for Philly Market Place at Xfinity Live. "Packed every night."

Johnson said it's fair to estimate that patrons spend, on average, $25 at one of the complex's establishments. Multiply that by 2,500 fans who attend during Flyers games, and that's $62,500 that could be lost a night.

Xfinity Live holds up to 5,000 people, which includes the outdoor tailgating pavilion, Johnson said.

On Wednesday night, there were about 120 patrons at the entire complex - and that included about 90 folks who were there for two private parties.

"Like most bars, there has to be an event" to draw patrons, said Braga, whose complex draws huge crowds for Eagles games and hopes to attract fans for 76ers games.

If the NHL lockout lasts the entire season - as it did in 2004-05 - Johnson doesn't believe it would destroy Xfinity Live.

"I think we've established ourselves here," he said. "We're confident we can stand on our own as a dining/entertainment district. We had Octoberfest here and sold out of tickets. Last Friday, we had Mike and Mike of ESPN do their live broadcast here from the tailgate field, and we had over 500 people attend at 5:30 in the morning. Andy Reid was there and [ESPN's Sal Paolantonio] and Ron Jaworski, so there was a big crowd. And we had Secret Service on our outdoor stage for a free show last Friday night, and we were almost at capacity."

Johnson paused.

"That said, we don't want to see the hockey season go to waste," he said. "As hockey fans, it would kill us to see the season go."

Johnson, formerly the Flyers' director of marketing, said the fans of the various sports teams "bring a different energy" to his complex.

For now, they won't be bringing it from Flyers games.


Contact Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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