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The final pro hockey game at the Spectrum has been played.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The latest unofficial info on where the Phantoms will go: Bellmawr

During the September PPPC Meeting, then-COO Frank Miceli was our guest speaker and told the Phan Club that there were six sites in southern NJ that Comcast-Spectacor was looking at, as potential places where the Phantoms could play if an arena was built (by some other developer -- Comcast-Spectacor has stated outright that they won't build one themselves).

Perhaps this article is about one of those six sites. Frank couldn't tell us more than "there are six sites", as the process of investigation was nowhere near far enough along for details to be made public.

In any event, CLICK HERE for a blog post about a potential site in Bellmawr, NJ, near the I-42/I-295 interchange.

The site for the proposed Bellmawr waterfront arena project is near the Route 42-Interstate 295 interchange.

The site for the proposed Bellmawr waterfront arena project is near the Route 42-Interstate 295 interchange.

By ADAM SMELTZ • Courier-Post Staff

A Bellmawr developer has proposed that an arena to replace the Wachovia Spectrum could take shape in the borough, near the Route 42-Interstate 295 interchange, Mayor Frank Filipek said Friday.

The firm, Develcom, has already undertaken a multi-year commercial development project at the property, which borders the southwest edge of the interchange. New revisions to those plans, posted on the project Web site at, suggest a major arena could be incorporated there just east of Big Timber Creek.

Other elements in the published plans include hotels, retail space and a large cinema, all outlined by Develcom.

Filipek said the development firm made its new-arena pitch to the Spectrum’s owner, Comcast-Spectacor, which plans to tear down the South Philadelphia landmark next year.

A meeting to gauge Comcast-Spectacor’s interest should happen sometime in the coming weeks, Filipek said. He said he and representatives from Develcom and Comcast-Spectacor are expected to attend.

“It’s a great proposal,” Filipek said.” . . . I’ve heard they’re very interested in Bellmawr.”

He said he has “really never thought about” what the project could mean for the borough.

“I’m not going to think about it until it comes to reality,” Filipek said. “. . . Until (Comcast-Spectacor) says they’re definitely coming — then I will say what it means for Bellmawr.”

Under an agreement with the Camden County Improvement Authority, Develcom cannot speak with reporters about the matter and must refer inquiries to the authority, said company President Charles Gollub.

Authority Executive Director Frederic Weinstein declined to comment Friday.

“If or when the appropriate time comes, we’re happy to share any and all information with the press and the community,” Gollub said.

Comcast-Spectacor, based in Philadelphia, announced in July that it will demolish the 41-year-old arena, a popular concert venue and home to the Philadelphia Phantoms hockey team.

Since the announcement, Comcast-Spectacor executives have said they need to find a new venue to host the Phantoms. Chairman Ed Snider has said such an arena should seat at least 7,000 fans in order to accommodate the American Hockey League team.

But to attract concerts, an arena’s total capacity would need to be more than that, Snider has said.

Comcast-Spectacor did not comment Friday specifically on the Bellmawr prospect. In a prepared statement sent to the Courier-Post, company President Peter Luukko said the group is in talks with multiple groups about relocating the Phantoms.

The company “is not building a new arena,” Luukko said. “However, if someone is building a new arena, we would like to talk to them about potentially moving the Phantoms there.”

He said the company has held “very preliminary discussions about sites in South Jersey. At this time, there is nothing definitive.”

In September, Cherry Hill Township spokesman Dan Keashen said his municipality was “cautiously excited to be considered a prospective location.” In August, Luukko said Atlantic City and the Lehigh Valley in Pennsylvania also were among the possibilities.

Reached Friday, county Freeholder-Director Louis Cappelli Jr. said he understands Comcast-Spectacor reviewed several Camden County sites, including ones in Bellmawr, Cherry Hill and Winslow.

He said such a new venue would be an asset for the area.

“We don’t really have a facility that can accommodate several thousand people in Camden County or the region,” Cappelli said. He said the addition could help attract conferences and other major events.

Real-estate executive Eliott Fuhrman, once involved in the Garden State Park development talks in Cherry Hill, said a new arena would probably require a partnership of public and private entities.

“It really has to be a public-private partnership,” said Fuhrman, general partner in Maryland-based Glencoe and Associates. “Financially, a convention center or a stadium cannot be self-sustaining, especially in today’s economy, because there’s no access for funding. It has to be public-private.”

Fuhrman also said a new arena would probably be a better fit in Pennsauken — at the old Pennsauken Mart site — than it would be in Bellmawr. He said the Pennsauken site would plant the arena closer to Philadelphia and its hockey fans, and offer more opportunities for additional redevelopment surrounding the arena.

“Let’s face it: You go right down Haddonfield Road (from Pennsauken), and you’re at the Cherry Hill Mall,” Fuhrman said. “People could go to dinner before or after” events.

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