PHILADELPHIA – Sounds of construction took place on Thursday as Joe Billhimer stood just outside the 10th Street entrance to Live! Casino & Hotel Philadelphia.
Across the gates, less than a block away, was Citizens Bank Park – home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
“This entry will facilitate a lot of fans,” Billhimer, executive vice president of Live! Philadelphia-owned group The Cordish Companies told the Vineland Daily Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network. “The Citizen Bank Park is right there, obviously the Linc (Lincoln Financial Field) is right behind, and the Wells Fargo Center right in front.”
Location is critical for this new 510,000 square foot venue and Live! Philadelphia believes it has found a prominent place in what it calls the “Stadium District” – a site housing four major professional sports teams.
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Turn left at the 10th Street entrance and you will reach Sports & Social Philadelphia, a sports bar and welcoming Live! The FanDuel bookmaker from Philadephia. The area includes a large bar, a wall of TVs and even a private cinema room for VIP guests.
Live! Philadelphia is not afraid of losing business to online sports betting. Officials here expect the bookie to be a top attraction, especially on match days in the city.
“Come here on a Sunday morning and tailgate,” said Jake Joyce, chief marketing officer. “There are 50,000 people here who will never enter the stadium. We go where people go.”
COVID-19 has put a damper on any idea of a full-fledged reveal, but Live! Philadelphia plans to move forward with a reduced opening on February 11 with security measures in place.
In addition to steps such as required masks and limited abilities, Live! The Philadelphia gaming experience will feature built-in technology to promote a safe atmosphere.
For example, when a guest sits down to play certain electronic games, the machines on either side of the guest are designed to turn off to promote social distancing.
The casino offers over 2,100 slot machines and 150 live table games fitted with plexiglass dividers. There is a dedicated 29 table poker room which Billhimer says is “as beautiful as any on the east coast.”
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The casino offers 74 electronic dealer-assisted table games where customers can simultaneously play different types of games, such as blackjack and roulette. Live! Philadelphia also has high limit slots and table rooms, as well as a Live! Rewards program.
Dinner at Live! Philadelphia is headlined by The Prime Rib, and Luk Fu, described as the flavors of Southeast Asia meet South Philadelphia.
The 10th Street Market is a food hall which will include restaurants such as Lorenzo and Sons Pizza, Sang Kee Noodle Bar & Kitchen, Termini Brothers Bakery, Guy Fieri’s Burger and Taco joints, etc.
Customers should expect dining options at Live! Philadelphia will become more accessible from the end of February, according to Billhimer.
The aptly named Center Bar is located in the middle of the casino floor and will host live music, communal tables and comfortable seating. Live! Philadelphia’s R Bar is an interactive space with electronic table games and a 12-meter-long TV.
Live! Philadelphia has a 12-story, 208-room hotel comprised of 30 suites with impressive city views. Joyce said the property has already started seeing room reservations.
Online rates show rooms starting at $ 299 Sunday through Thursday and $ 399 Friday and Saturday.
Live! Philadelphia has a 15,000 square foot event center capable of hosting meetings or entertainment for up to about 1,100 guests, according to Joyce.
The project is expected to create around 2,000 jobs and generate $ 2 billion in economic stimulus for Philadelphia, according to The Cordish Companies. They also pledge $ 100 million in tax revenue for the city during its first five years of operation, including $ 25 million to the School District of Philadelphia.
The Cordish Companies owns Xfinity Live nearby! at the Philadelphia Sports Complex and operates a similar gaming facility in Maryland in addition to sports entertainment venues across the country.
Live! Philadelphia enters a market that includes the nearby Rivers Casino, Parx in Bensalem, Harrah’s in Chester, and Valley Forge Casino Resort in King of Prussia.
The new operation will also attempt to lure loyal players to Atlantic City with what it sees as a practical and attractive home.
“We’re right next to (highways) 76 and 95,” Billhimer said. “Obviously the stadiums were built for people to come in and out of, and we’re in a prime location. So I think we’re an easily accessible location for many from the center to the south of. Jersey. Why go to Atlantic City when you have all the amenities here? “
Live! Philadelphia has a series of reservation-only preview days slated for January 19 for Live! Rewards club members before opening to the public at 8 p.m. on February 11.
From there, live! Philadelphia will take a conservative approach to welcoming guests to the property.
“It’s the start of a marathon, not a sprint, so we want to get it right,” Billhimer said. “We are looking to build a business that will be here much longer than all of us.”