Saturday, October 07, 2006

What the Hell Happened?

Ok, let's be clear here. I am NOT the hippest guy around. I don't go to a lot of concerts or hang out in cool clubs. But I do get to the Wachovia Center more than a few times. Concerts, hoops, hockey, all said I have probably been there a half dozen times in the last year. So last night when my friend who I can't tell you about went down to the Big House for a Phantoms Game, I was ASTONISHED at the changes the Center's 10th year brings. No Red Bell. (By the looks of their site, no one told the, yet!) Terrible beer selection. Near zero food choices. Now I am not going to pretend that the Red Bell Brew Pub that used to be on the concourse was anything special. The beer was uneven in quality and place was always too crowded. But it was the freshest beer in a sports venue I have had. And it was certainly far better in quality than the terrible little Finnegan's Wake (no one told their webmaster either) they dropped into the prime concourse spot. The place looks terrible with about 50 green-shaded lamps hanging from the ceiling. The only beer available is distributed by mega-beer conglomerate Anheuser-Busch. (These guys should stick to making aluminum cans, rather than filling it with anything.) Prices? ABout normal. You always pay $750 for 16 ounces of frothy, warm Bud Light, right? When it opened, the Canter was one of the best venues to watch an event in America. Wide concourses, lotsa bathrooms , good beer and great sight lines made it a monster step up from the Spectrum. The Spectrum had all those banners, but you risked life and limb looking up at them because the steps were so damn steep. And who could forget the the lines in the tiny hallways they called concourses? And the scary, subterranean bathrooms? So the Center with three different corporate appellations was a welcome step up. And they regularly made it better, most notably with the bar/restaurant/stage pavilion they added this past spring.. There are some great memorabilia displays, most interesting of which is the Flyers Hat Trick display of the thousands of hats that have been picked up off the ice. The last two times I have visited though, I was left with the feeling that the place is slipping down hill. Food quality and selection are not as good, staff seem a bit less friendly. The bathrooms need to be spruced up. The changes didn't dampen the fun we had at the Phantom's 5-4 OT win over the Norfolk Admirals, but I was still left thinking, remember when this place was new? Maybe I am getting grumpy in my old age!
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