The Philadelphia 76ers are creating a new development company to spearhead a $1.3 billion project to build a downtown private arena, the team announced Thursday morning.
While the 76ers don’t plan to be in the arena until the 2031-32 season — the season after the lease expires at their current home, the Wells Fargo Center — and they won’t be opening new venues for several years. , the team said it would partner with Macerich, operator of Philadelphia’s Fashion District, to create the arena.
“We know that the best thing we believe for the city, for our fans and for our organization is to be centrally located in a state of the art building that will be privately funded by our ownership team,” Sixers President. Tad Brown told ESPN. “And it will create a completely new environment, a completely new environment that will also really give a big economic boost to the part of the city that really needs it.
“We think this is a win-win for the city and for our organization… It will be a lot of fun. It’s a great day.”
Sixers co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer bought the franchise from Comcast in 2011 and have been planning to build their own arena in Philadelphia for several years. This included trying to build one at Penn’s Landing, on the east side of the city along the Delaware River. This plan ultimately failed two years ago when the city opted for a different development plan.
At this point, Harris and Blitzer decided to team up with David Adelman — a longtime 76ers fan, season ticket holder for over 20 years, and developer — to form a partnership to create a new arena.
Adelman will become chairman of the new 76 DevCorp that he, Harris and Blitzer are creating. The company will be tasked with bringing the new arena from blueprints to reality.
“Honestly, when Penn’s touchdown happened, yes, I think one of the downsides was that they realized that it wasn’t a Philadelphia man who was leading the process,” Adelman told ESPN. “And no disrespect to New York or anywhere else, but you want locals, right?”
Adelman said it was a dream come true to realize a “legacy project” in Philadelphia so that “my children and grandchildren will know that I have revitalized a section of Market Street that was a little short of its full potential.”
“And to do that in this partnership is amazing,” he said.
Brown said the 76ers learned a lot from their failures with the Penn’s Landing proposal and that he applied those lessons to the new site. Brown and Adelman said they have already entered into agreements with all the parties necessary to carry out the project, including Makerich.
“I think we listened and learned from what we may not have expected from Penn’s Landing,” Brown said. “That’s why we’re back with better infrastructure, with David Adelman in place. And also, you know, it’s all privately funded. this is.
“[Asking for public subsidies] does not play in Philadelphia. … We wanted to remove this issue from discussion and want to build the best facility in the country using our own resources so that we can give something to the city.”
Two big questions remain: Will the 76ers stay at the Wells Fargo Center for the duration of the loan—nine more seasons—and will the Flyers join them in a new endeavor?
Brown and Adelman insisted that the 76ers weren’t planning on trying to speed things up to get into this new building sooner.
As for the Flyers, Brown said conversations with their co-owners at the Wells Fargo Center are ongoing. He said the 76ers would like the Flyers to join them in a new venture, but the project would move forward regardless of the hockey team’s decision.
“But everyone knows that from an organizational point of view, we are looking for what will be in the interests of the city, our fans and our organization,” Brown said. “We can be as transparent and open with Comcast as we can move forward.”
Currently, all four of Philadelphia’s professional sports teams play at the same complex in South Philadelphia, where they have been housed for the past half century. However, the 76ers believe that abandoning that tradition and building an arena downtown will provide fans with a much better experience.
“How many arenas have you been to downtown? [of a city]? That’s where the puck goes,” Adelman said. “Now the sports complex in South Philadelphia has only a Broad Street line, only one line. We have every line.
“When you leave the Wells Fargo Center, you can’t go out for a drink, you can’t eat anything. You have to go home and you have to sit in that funnel to get stuck in traffic. Right now our fans are forced to leave two minutes early and we need to do something better. We have to give them that experience.”
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