While Flyers’ fans grow evermore discontent with the imminent destruction of the birthplace of their beloved bullies, the real concern among Philly faithful should be where the the Flyers’ AHL affiliate the Philadelphia Phantoms will call home next.
With the Wachovia Spectrum set to be demolished in 2009, the Phantoms, who enjoyed the rare luxery of being literally across the parking lot from its parent club, will need to find a new home fairly quickly.
The front runner to land the successful minor league club, is the city of Allentown, PA, approximately 50.6 miles from South Philadelphia. Allentown allows for an hour car ride to Philly, while also giving Pennsylvania’s third largest city a local team to root for. Allentown was recently labeled by Phantoms’ owner Peter Luuko as the “ideal setting.”
But what makes Allentown the perfect setting even more so than the population and vicinity to Philadelphia, is its willingness to attract businessmen and most importantly — a new rink. The state budget allows for $40 million to be spent on a new arena, with the rest being paid for by investors and developers. The new rink would likely be placed in the area of Coca Cola Park, the new home of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs minor league baseball team. The arena would seat 7,000 to 10,000 and would hold concerts and events as well.
Immediate interest has been shown by the Brooks Brothers, Jim and Rob Brooks, who are Pittsburgh businessmen with holdings in the Pittsburgh Penguins and its AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
“We’re really excited about this area. We’re community people,” Rob Brooks said. ” ‘Community first’ is our motto. We don’t expect the community to support us if we don’t support the community.”
The Brooks brothers got their ‘community first’ motto from their father Bob, who bought a stake in the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1994 not as a sound investment, but to keep the team in the city. He also took an interest into the Penguins when the team threatened to leave town.
If the Brooks Brothers get the green light, they would start contruction on a new arena as quickly as possible. The Phantoms would likely have to play a short time in a temporary arena, until a new one is built.