Shy of an NBA Championship, the Philadelphia 76ers have experienced more success in the last 5-10 years than they had during any similar span in the previous three decades.
The Sixers are title contender. They boast two of the league’s biggest stars, and the team’s value has risen dramatically since a group led by Joshua Harris purchased it for a reported $280 million in 2011.
But there’s one major issue looming.
The 76ers don’t own the Wells Fargo Center, the arena they call home. Instead, they lease the space from Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Philadelphia Flyers, the building’s main tenants.
Now, that’s not a huge issue on its face. And it’s not uncommon. The Boston Celtics lease TD North Garden, and the Los Angeles Lakers lease the Staples Center (erm, Crypto.com Arena).
But it does limit the value of the team itself.
Which is why Sixers ownership is looking to build a new arena in the heart of the downtown Philadelphia. The current arena is in the sports complex outside of the city next to Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park.
Plans for the new arena would place it just outside of Chinatown in Philadelphia on the site of a former shopping mall. Those plans received a lot of push back when first announced, especially from Chinatown residents.
But not everyone is against the new plan.
Doug Greenberg of Front Office Sports reports that Black community leaders in Philadelphia have come out in support of the plans. Greenberg also reports that team has committed to 40% of the concessionaires within the finished 76 Place to Black-owned food and drink operators, and plans to use Black contractors to build the project.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ proposed $1.3 billion arena got a major vote of confidence from one of the city’s core demographics — even as others continue to oppose it.
The African American Chamber of Commerce, as well as a collection of Black religious leaders from around the city, have come out in support of the Sixers’ plan to build a new arena and commercial center tentatively named 76 Place.
“We want to make sure that 76 Place reflects our culture, reflects our vibrancy, reflects our diversity,” said the 76ers’ chief diversity and impact officer, David Gould. – via Front Office Sports
The Sixers are still years away from a potential move. Their lease at the Wells Fargo Center extends through 2031. And any potential new arena plans will have to clear a number of hurdles.
But it’s clear that whenever, and wherever a move happens, it won’t be without controversy.