One of the things neither Bob nor I ever talk about during our Phillies coverage, because it’s really not that interesting to the fans, is that the Phillies have positioned our seats in the press box directly next to Howard Eskin.

So why bring it up now?

One thing about sitting next to Howard is you find out that everything you hear on the radio is exactly how he REALLY feels. There’s no act with Eskin. Ad if you think the entire conversation with Howard in a Phillies press box is going to be about baseball, well, you don’t know Howard.

I end up being a test audience of sorts for his WIP appearances. He gives his opinions and his sourced information that he can share, and I respond, and the banter back and forth is either in lock step agreement or he calls me a dope or a moron when I disagree. There is no in between.

So, when the conversation shifts to the Sixers, he gets especially fired up. Whether he’s belittling Joel Embiid, criticizing Glenn Rivers (He refuses to call him Doc, even in private conversation), or he’s lambasting the organization for pushing for a new stadium in downtown Philadelphia, Howard is energized. Talk about the Phillies? He sits there, casually, shelling his peanuts. Talk about the Eagles? He may lean forward a little bit, just in case he has to defend them, but he remains relatively calm. Bring up the Sixers though and it’s almost like a five-hour energy drink was directly injected into his blood stream.

Howard gets especially amped up with the stadium conversation. It is a big deal in the city, becoming one of the key conversation points in the upcoming Mayoral Democratic Primary that should determine the next mayor of the city. A six horse race that many experts believe is a total toss up a little less than a month from the polls opening.

Eskin has been one of the loudest media members opposing the Stadium being built in the Fashion District, mere steps from Chinatown. And don’t think that the key players on both sides aren’t readily aware of this.

Normally, here at Crossing Broad, I don’t step into this fray. Kevin Kinkead handles all the stuff involving the 76ers and the stadium discussion. But, Kevin is on vacation and there was a call to Eskin’s show on Saturday morning about this topic that was intriguing. After Pagan filled in for my slow-pitch softball team on Sunday and struck out looking, I knew I couldn’t trust him to tackle it, so it fell into my lap.

With the Phillies off Monday, I was unable to check with Howard to see if this call was planned or if it came out of the blue, but I did find it interesting. So I decided to pop it into a post in case you missed it and allow you to digest it and see if it has any bearing on your personal take on this whole stadium situation.

The call was from Geoff Gordon, Regional President of Live Nation Entertainment.

Live Nation, in case you don’t know, is the global leader when it comes to live events and ticketing (they own Ticketmaster). I’ve personally felt, all along, that in all the coverage about the Sixers and the possibility of building a new arena, that the forgotten angle in the whole thing is the concerts and other live events (Monster Trucks, Cirque du Solei, WWE, Disney on Ice, etc.). And while Live Nation may not be directly linked to every one of them, they do bring more live events to stadiums and arenas than any other company.

So, it’s interesting to note the thoughts and opinions of the folks who are responsible for these non-sports live events when it comes to a new arena because, if we’re being fair, they will be responsible for more events in the building than the actual Sixers basketball team – whether it’s at the Wells Fargo Center or a new building downtown.

As such, this quick call from Gordon to Eskin was especially telling:

Here is a slightly edited (for clarity) transcription of the most important part of the call for those of you who can’t listen to it at the moment:

Howard Eskin (HE): Larry Magid has already addressed this. When you do concerts at the Wells Fargo Center, you’re obviously very happy doing them there, correct?

Geoff Gordon (GG): Correct.

HE: The Sixers are going to try and entice people – that building at 10th and Market is a joke…there’s nothing right about it, ‘it’s a new building configured for basketball,’ I don’t care. Would you think about moving to another building?

GG: We enjoy a great relationship with Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment in many places, including the Prudential Center…it really just remains to be seen where it’s located, to be honest with you. Where we’re located now, although people sometimes say ‘oh we have three venues right around there and there can be traffic problems,’ try going to Gillette Stadium or any of the other places around the country and see what real traffic is. I like the Sports Complex, presently, where we are.

HE: Here’s the other thing that hasn’t been put out there, which I was told by a Sixers person…they’re going to have a park or ride and share. They tell you that there’s 9,000 parking spots in that area but they’re blocks away, so they’re gonna have buses, or whatever, vans, whatever, to take people from parking lots to the arena, how’s that going to work?

GG: One thing that I do know about Philadelphia fans, and it’s definitely a fact, is that we’re tailgaters, too. We like to go early and hang out, no matter what it is. We do a show called Trans-Siberian Orchestra, which is a beautiful holiday show that sells out two areas, and there’s people out there having a good time before a family show.

HE: You know I never thought of that, Jeff, that’s a great point.

GG: What I’m saying is… without tailgating the culture really does suffer.

HE: A great point. I think you answered the question without answering the question…if they build at the Navy Yard…but they’re ‘going to save downtown Philadelphia’ is what they think – they’re not saving anything.

GG: I think with our culture you need to have parking lots and hang out…and drive. That’s where the event starts is out in the parking lot a lot of times, you know, BS-ing with your friends, maybe grabbing a beverage but not too many…or having a designated driver, of course, always, but that’s where the experience starts, Howard. That’s who we are, we are tailgaters.

Sure as hell sounds like Live Nation wants no part of a downtown arena, eh?

Former Philadelphia Mayoral candidate Sam Katz called into WIP two weeks ago on a Saturday with Glen Macnow and Mike Sielski, and while he, too, was opposed to the idea of building an arena downtown for a variety of reasons, the most important thing he pointed out is that in cities with competing arenas, none are profitable (except Madison Square Garden, which is a unique exception to this debate) because the number of dates needed to be in the black instead of the red aren’t attainable when the venue options are spread thin.

The Wells Fargo Center is pretty damn good at scheduling these events. You can hate Comcast all you want, and trust me as a Verizon customer you have a sympathetic ear here, but the reality is that one of the things they do really well is keep the Wells Fargo Center hopping. They fill that arena with events on a regular basis.

According to an in-depth report by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Center currently hosts about 220 events per year, and accommodates 98% of the booking requests it receives, which is no small task with three professional sports teams as tenants.

Now imagine two arenas competing for those 220 events? Even if you split them 50/50 and put 110 events in each, and then have the two arenas avidly compete for the 2% of booking requests that are currently not being accommodated by the Wells Fargo Center, neither one is going to get close to being profitable. That’s what Katz was saying. And he’s right.

And, when it comes to the arena, so is Eskin. I’m sure he’ll tell me all about it at the next Phillies game.