Last night, FOX Philly did a little bit of investigative work on drinking at Xfinity Live!, detailing in two separate reports a finding by the PA liquor control board that a minor was served alcohol, and other incidents of general debauchery.
On April 18, one underage person, working undercover with the LCB, was served alcohol five separate times, apparently by five separate vendors. And, this weekend, FOX documented numerous occasions of people being escorted out of or stumbling from the building.
The investigator had come here probing complaints that the place was packed to the rafters, causing fights.
Investigators returned on April 18, the night of a big Flyers-Penguins matchup, only this time with an underage person looking to buy booze. It was no trouble at all.
Pennsylvania State Police have slapped Xfinity Live with a letter telling them they sold to a minor five times, a serious violation likely to bring a citation.
It’s the sort of thing that goes on, on some level, at nearly every large bar or entertainment district or whatever you want to call it. A few 20-year-olds are bound to be served, a few drunks will puke and remove the bathroom stall door, fights will happen, and people will slither out not knowing which way is up or who they’re going home with. Some of us call that Saturday. But, the fact that Xfinity Live! has already drawn complaints from the LCB (and some of you in the comments and on Twitter)… well, it’s noteworthy.
I spoke with Comcast-Spectacor PR man Ike Richman, who issued this statement:
With more than 300,000 visitors coming through Xfinity Live! since we opened, we believe this is an isolated incident in which an undercover police office was able to get past security. We take this VERY seriously and have increased security, added ID scanners, and increased check points, to assure that it never occurs again.
I can tell you that we have been checked by the LCB on several other accounts and have had no issues at all.
Again, we take this very seriously and we will do everything we can to assure our patrons that this is a safe, fun and exciting venue for everyone.
The fact that one underage person was served alcohol on one afternoon isn’t exactly the most damning accusation in the world. I’d posit that nearly every bar – especially one serving 300,000 people in 30 days (my word!) – has served an underage person at some point, whether they were caught or not. Bartenders, as a whole, are not usually pillars of solid judgement (sorry, 'tenders… love you).
What stands out to me, though, is the mention of crowds and the place being “packed to the rafters.” Richman told me that Xfinity Live! never exceeds its capacity, which is nearly 2,800 humans and one mechanical bull, but that doesn’t mean the joint isn’t entirely too small for that many people to hang comfortably. That’s the issue here– not the one documented instance of underage drinking, rather the fact that you can’t move when something – anything – is going on in there.
Back when I was given a preview of the place in December, my lone question centered on whether the place would be too crowded.
But how crowded will it be? McFadden’s is a standalone option, too, yet I still get penetrated by meatheads if I take two steps to my right.
You read my mind– I don’t like getting penetrated by meatheads, either. To me, McFadden’s isn’t a pleasurable experience on game days… neither is a crowded Ashburn Alley. Both have decent offerings, and great location, but the appeal is lost by having to deal with the ridiculous crowds. What should be an enjoyable experience turns into a fight just to get a beer and a pork sandwich.
That’s my concern with Xfinity Live!
Ultimately, Chickie’s and Pete’s is successful as a pre and post-game option because, while crowded, it manages the masses beautifully. You may wait for a seat, but the bar area is wide-open and service is insanely fast, though not rushed.
Xfinity Live! is going to be big and have many open areas, but if the crowds aren’t managed properly or there are bottlenecks in bad spots, the whole experience could suffer. From the images I’ve seen, the design looks open enough, though.
The building itself, the amenities, the 32-foot HD screen, food and beer selections are mostly decent. The problem is that they’re nearly impossible to enjoy during peak hours, which is most of the time at Xfinity Live!. The place becomes a massive bar, not a dining and entertainment district. And with that comes LOUD NOISES and the type of people who are out to get shitfaced. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s just now happening on a massive, corporate-funded scale, in the middle of the sports complex. Which leads to mass drunkenness, fights, not enough taxis, and these types of stories.
That’s the takeaway here: Comcast isn’t out to serve alcohol to minors or incite chaos. They’re just struggling through the growing pains of the place being too small.
Videos of FOX’s reports are after the jump.