It's a big week for Mayor John Street. After several years of much-contested negotiations, deliberations and site tours, the mayor has promised to announce the location for the construction of two new sports stadiums by the end of the week. No matter which of the seven possible sites the mayor chooses, city officials say Street's decision will have a substantial economic effect on the stadium's new neighborhood. The Philadelphia City Council promised to approve a stadium deal by this fall so that a new stadium for the Phillies can open in April 2003. According to Street spokesman Ray Jones, the mayor ideally wants the Phillies' new home to be in Center City. The Eagles already have a plan for a new facility near Veterans Stadium in South Philadelphia. "He prefers a Center City site," Jones said. "He thinks you can get the best bang for a dollar down there." But while Street favors a downtown location, many Center City residents have continually protested living next door to a sports center. And it remains to be seen whether the city can afford to build a downtown stadium. According to Penn Public Policy Professor Ted Hershberg, if cost were not a factor in the decision-making process, it would be a "no-brainer" to locate both stadiums in Center City. "A downtown site will be much better for the city's health economically," he explained. "The psyche of the whole city fits together much better if you have a downtown site." Philadelphia Councilman Frank Diciccio, whose district encompasses five of the seven possible sites, said it's still too soon to tell where the mayor might locate the stadiums. He said the city should position the construction "wherever we can get the best economic development." "And where that is, the jury is still out on that," he added. But Diciccio said that it would make sense to put the stadiums in Center City, where they would be closest to commercial areas. And Tom Muldoon, president of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that for the hospitality and tourism industries, locating the stadiums in Center City is virtually the only viable option. Muldoon predicted that other downtown attractions would see a rise in attendance if stadiums are built in the vicinity. "You get a coupling of activities," he explained. "Bringing attendance into stadiums downtown is 3 million people. That's a lot of money that can be shaken out of people's pockets."Comments powered by Disqus
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