What began as the ambition of a single man has since grown to be an innovative force in the entertainment industry.
Comcast Spectacor’s late Chairman, Ed Snider, had a goal and a game plan, as he turned a brand-new hockey team and a bankrupt facility into the ultimate success story. But his power play didn’t stop with the championship Philadelphia Flyers, nor with the transformation and rejuvenation of The Spectrum. Snider brought his management expertise to venues around the world, with the same game-changing vision that started it all.
Headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa., Comcast Spectacor’s three core businesses are the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center venue, and Spectra, a hospitality firm specializing in Venue Management, Food Services & Hospitality, and Partnerships.
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The origins of Comcast Spectacor date back to 1967, when Ed Snider sought an opportunity to create a National Hockey League team in Philadelphia and build an arena to serve as the team’s home. Taking risks that most entrepreneurs would never consider, Snider applied his courageous vision and management expertise to establish the Philadelphia Flyers and the Spectrum.
The Flyers captured the Stanley Cup in 1974 and again in 1975, becoming the first expansion team to win the coveted trophy. The Flyers today continue to rank among the NHL’s elite franchises.
Building upon the success of the Spectrum, widely hailed as America’s Showplace in the early 1980s, Snider created Spectacor Management Incorporated to bring venue management expertise to other public assembly facilities. He later joined that company with Aramark and the Hyatt Corporation to create SMG.
In 1996, Comcast Spectacor was formed when Snider created a new partnership with cable powerhouse Comcast Corporation, also a Philadelphia company. The new sports and entertainment venture that emerged included the Philadelphia Flyers, the Spectrum, the soon-to-open CoreStates Center (now Wells Fargo Center), the Philadelphia 76ers and a new 24-hour regional sports programming network, Comcast SportsNet. Comcast Spectacor immediately acquired an American Hockey League franchise to play at the Spectrum when the Flyers moved to their new home in the CoreStates Center.
In 1997, Snider sold his interest in SMG to his partners. In early 2000, Comcast Spectacor again entered the public assembly management business when it acquired Globe Facility Services. The company was renamed Global Spectrum and quickly increased its contracts by nearly 500 percent.
Also in 2000, Comcast Spectacor formed a food and retail division by buying a majority interest in Leisure and Recreation Consultants, Inc. (LRC), which was renamed Ovations Food Services, L.P. In a separate transaction, Comcast Spectacor acquired three Maryland minor-league baseball clubs and their concessionaire, Excel Food Services. Excel’s business alone added $5 million in annual sales to Ovations’ balance sheet, doubling its revenue.
In 2001, Comcast Spectacor added Front Row Marketing Services, which sold sponsorships and premium seats for sports facilities. Front Row and Global Spectrum predecessor Globe Facility Services had shared some of the same investors and building accounts. Front Row Marketing would later be merged into Paciolan and Global Spectrum (2015).
In July of 2003, Comcast Spectacor entered the event ticketing business by acquiring Patron Solutions, which was renamed New Era Tickets. The company specialized in providing innovative technological solutions for box office management, event management and customer communications.
In 2004, Comcast Spectacor made an equity investment in Paciolan, a ticketing software company, and acquired the right to use its technology platform. In 2010, the company acquired the remaining percentage of Paciolan from a subsidiary of Live Nation Entertainment and became sole owner of Paciolan’s ticketing platform and other technology.
In 2006, Comcast Spectacor sold two of its three minor league baseball teams – the Bowie Baysox and the Frederick Keys –to Ken Young, President of two Class AAA minor league baseball teams – the Norfolk Tides and Albuquerque Isotopes.
In 2011, Comcast Spectacor sold the Philadelphia 76ers to a group of financiers headed by Josh Harris, a partner in the Apollo Management Equity Firm, and David Blitzer, the Senior Managing Director and Co- Chair of Blackstone, a private equity group.
In December 2013, Dave Scott, a former Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Comcast Cable, assumed day-to-day leadership of Comcast Spectacor as President and CEO. Shortly thereafter, he piloted a rebrand of Global Spectrum, Ovations Food Services, and Paciolan as Spectra.
On April 11, 2016, Ed Snider passed away at the age of 83 following a long battle with cancer. Snider’s entrepreneurial spirit remains an ever-present part of the company’s culture. To read more about the Life of Ed Snider, please click here.
In 2017, Comcast Spectacor sold its Spectra Ticketing division to Learfield. Today, Spectra provides a network of integrated services that cover all aspects of the live event experience, including Venue Management, Food Services & Hospitality and Partnerships.
In June 2017, Comcast Spectacor purchased the Alaska Aces ECHL hockey franchise and relocated the team to the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, ME, where Spectra provides Venue Management and Food Services & Hospitality. The yet-to-be-named team will begin play with the 2018-19 season.
In July 2017, Comcast Spectacor reached an agreement to acquire Brûlée Catering by Chef Jean-Marie Lacroix from GuestCounts Hospitality. The Philadelphia-based market leader in premium hospitality and off-premise catering now operates within the Spectra Food Services & Hospitality portfolio.
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At Comcast Spectacor, we have a proud tradition of community investment and a commitment to making a difference. Together, the Comcast Spectacor, Comcast and NBCUniversal families empower our communities by investing in local organizations to mobilize resources and connect people to make a difference. Comcast Spectacor has contributed nearly $26 million to non-profit organizations. Across each of our companies and teams we make proactive efforts to maintain ethical standards, community service activism, and sustainability practices in all areas.
Comcast Corporation (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is a global media and technology company with two primary businesses, Comcast Cable and NBCUniversal. Comcast Cable is one of the nation's largest video, high-speed Internet and phone providers to residential customers under the XFINITY brand and also provides these services to businesses. NBCUniversal operates news, entertainment, and sports cable networks, the NBC and Telemundo broadcast networks, television production operations, television station groups, Universal Pictures, and Universal Parks and Resorts. Visit www.comcastcorporation.com for more information.