It wasn’t too long ago Philadelphia had it’s minor league hockey team playing across the street in the old Spectrum. When the Spectrum was demolished and Xfinity Live! was built, the Phantoms needed to find a new place and city to call home. With new ownership, the team relocated to New York, playing in Glens Falls beginning in 2009.
The goal from the beginning was to move the team to Allentown, Pennsylvania which is about an hour north of Philadelphia in the Lehigh Valley. The Adirondack Phantoms will be no more after this season. Beginning next fall, Philadelphia’s minor league team will have a new home and a new name.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Instead of being named after the city, the Phantoms will take more of a regional name. They’re not the only team in the area to do it, as the Philadelphia Phillies Triple A affiliate is also located in the area and their name is the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs.
The impact of the team will be far reaching beyond just the city of Allentown and will have an overall effect on the surrounding communities as well. The area is no stranger to minor league sports teams and has a strong history of athletic interest and support. The Iron Pigs are tops among minor league attendance annually. The Lehigh Valley is home to many colleges including DeSales University, Lehigh University, Muhlenburg College, Moravian College and Cedar Crest College among others which no doubt help boost attendance figures and surrounding interest.
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are preparing to mov into a brand new, state-of-the-art arena. The $177 million dollar arena will seat 8,500 for hockey and roughly 10,000 for concerts. The arena has gotten corporate support from many local businesses. Channel 69 News will move into a glass-front broadcast studio that will be located on the ground level similar to that of NBC in New York City. Other large corporate sponsors include naming-rights sponsor PPL Corporation, Lehigh Valley Health Network, Service Electric Cable TV and Communications, and Capital BlueCross.
The PPL Center and the Phantoms are just one part of the revival of the city of Allentown and surrounding areas. Also moving into the area will be a large retail complex and office space, an engineering and consulting firm, and a natural gas company. The influx of businesses and corresponding new construction has created a plethora of new job opportunities both now and in the future as well as turning the city of Allentown into a more family friendly and business-like environment.
The team looks to continue to play competitive hockey and build a strong fan base to new fans and old fans. The prices will be much more affordable than that of the Philadelphia Flyers which will give the game more exposure to families and younger children. With the team signing a 29 year lease, it will be a regional staple in the Lehigh Valley for the long haul.
Damien is a contributing writer covering the Philadelphia Flyers for The Hockey Writers and Buzz On Broad. He is finishing up a degree in Communication and Sport Management from DeSales University and is currently a Digital Media Intern at Comcast SportNet Philadelphia.