by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor
Peter Luukko, president of Comcast Spectacor (the Philadelphia Flyers' parent company and the organizers behind Philadelphia's Frozen Four bid), responded to our commentary that criticized the city's selection to host the 2014 Frozen Four. The article pointed out that it was not about the Philadelphia people or their ability to host a big event, but rather the selection of Philadelphia over other more downtown-friendly locations like Boston.
Luukko: I thought your article was misleading. First off, like in Detroit, if you were there — in between the semis, you can't leave the arena anyway.
But there's plenty to do around here. With the restaurants and bars and "Chickie's and Pete's" (bar/restaurant) close by. The fact is, we're 3 miles from Center City, and the subway takes you there in minutes.
Much of the activity (at the Frozen Four) centers around the hotels. And the hotels are downtown. And Center City Philadelphia is one of the most entertaining areas in the country. Obviously we're biased. But we've had incredible events here. Look at the various NCAA Championships, the figure skating convention, the NBA All-Star Game. All left here with a good taste in their mouth. It's a great city, and your remarks are very unfair and misinformed.
I know the city will do an outstanding job. There will be so much for the people to do.
By then we hope to have the first phase of our Philly Live! development done. The various bars and restaurants close by have shuttle services.
It basically is downtown. The Headquarters is downtown. So you're going to have all those amenities. I never will knock another city, but I think we're more similar than you think. And we've proven it. And we're so excited to get this event that we're a bit offended when someone says people won't have a good time.
It hasn't been here yet and so how can you criticize? I guarantee the fans they will have a good time.
CHN: I know you were close last time bids were chosen.
Luukko: They told us they really liked our bid but they were trying to do some things, at that time, out of the box. And now we'll get our shot.
Another reason I think it's a great site for college hockey is because this has developed into a hockey market, not just a Flyers market. Youth hockey is strong, players are coming from here that are playing college hockey (note: Luukko's son, Nick, was recently drafted by the Flyers, and will play for Vermont in 2011). ... This is the crowning achievement of that and will fuel it because it will inspire more growth and interest. It's a great expansion of the college hockey market coming here. To bring hockey to a non-traditional site like Anaheim or Tampa to get a taste of it, is great, but here's one market that has developed it.
Author's Note: I still disagree that Philadelphia is as good as the other options, and the above points were addressed in the original article. By the same token, it's true that the difference isn't so drastic that it will ruin the whole experience. Certainly, if you're willing to trek back and forth on the subway, there's plenty to do and see. I'm sure everything will be fine in the long run.
One thing I wholeheartedly agree with, however, is the boost this gives to local hockey — which makes the bid a positive from that standpoint.
I've lived in the suburban Philadelphia area for 18 years, covered local high school hockey (as it is), and was the play-by-play broadcaster on two Flyers Cup championship games. I've written countless articles about if, when and how local hockey in this area can improve — and countless articles about how it is indeed growing.
It ties into my ardent support of NHL hockey in Sun Belt states — arguing against the naysayers and Gary Bettman critics. That has been a boon to college hockey, USA Hockey, and the sport in general.
So a thumbs up on that score.