The Philadelphia 76ers are creating a new development company to lead a $ 1.3 billion project to build a privately funded arena in the city center, the team announced Thursday morning.
While the 76s do not plan to be in the arena until the 2031-32 season – the season after the lease expires in their current home, Wells Fargo Center – and they will not break ground on the new side for several years, the team said they will work with Macerich, the operator of the Philadelphia Fashion District, to bring the arena to life.
“We know that the best thing, we believe, for the city, for our fans and for our organization, is to be at the center of a state-of-the-art facility that will be privately funded by our ownership,” said the Sixers president. Tad Brown told ESPN. “And it’s going to create a whole new environment, a whole new environment, which will also really give a big economic boost in a development boost to a part of the city that really needs it.
“We think it’s a win-win for the city and for our organization … It’s going to 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 designing to build their own arena in Philadelphia for several years. It included an attempt to build one at Penn’s Landing, on the east side of town along the Delaware River. The plan finally fell through two years ago when the city chose to go with a different development plan.
At the time, Harris and Blitzer decided to team up with David Adelman – a lifelong 76ers fan, season ticket holder for more than 20 years and a real estate developer – to form a partnership to deliver a new arena.
Adelman will be chairman of a new company, 76 DevCorp, which he, Harris and Blitzer are creating. The company will be tasked with bringing the new arena from drawings to reality.
“Honestly, when Penn’s Landing happened, yes, I think one of the shortcomings was that they realized that no Philadelphia person was running the process,” Adelman told ESPN. “And no disrespect for New York or anywhere else, but who, you need locals, right?”
Adelman said it is a dream come true to do a “heritage project” in Philadelphia that “my children and grandchildren will know that I revitalized a part of Market Street that did not live up to its full potential.”
“And doing it in this partnership is just amazing,” he said.
Brown said the 76s learned a lot through their setbacks with Penn’s Landing proposal, and that he used these lessons on the new website. Brown and Adelman said they had already secured agreements with everyone involved needed to get the project started, including Macerich.
“I think we listened and we learned from the things we might not have expected for Penn’s Landing,” Brown said. “That’s why we came back with better infrastructure, with David Adelman in place. And also, you know, everything is privately funded. So there’s nothing we’re going to ask of the state or the city to go into this.
“[Asking for public subsidies] does not play in Philly. … We wanted to take that question off the table, and we want to build the country’s finest facilities with our own resources, so that we can give something to the city. “
Two important questions remain: Will the 76s stay at the Wells Fargo Center for as long as the lease lasts – another nine seasons – and will the Flyers join them in the new endeavor?
Brown and Adelman insisted that the 76ers had no plans to try to speed up the process of entering this new building earlier.
As for the Flyers, Brown said talks with their co-tenants at the Wells Fargo Center are ongoing. He said that the 76ers would love to have the Flyers with them in the new venture, but that the project would go ahead regardless of the hockey team’s decision.
“But everyone knows that what we are looking for organizationally is what will be in the best interests of the city, our fans and our organization,” Brown said. “Everything we can be as transparent and open with Comcast as we can as we move forward.”
Currently, all four professional sports teams in Philadelphia play in the same complex in South Philadelphia that has housed them for the past half century. However, the 76ers believe that breaking away from that tradition and building an arena in the city center will give fans a much better experience.
«How many arenas have you been to in the city center [of a city]? That’s where the puck goes, “said Adelman.” Right now, the sports complex in South Philly has only the Broad Street line, only one line. We have every line.
“When you leave the Wells Fargo Center, you can not have a drink, you can not get anything to eat. You have to go home, and you have to sit in this funnel to get into traffic. Right now, our fans are forced to go two minutes early and we have to do something better. We have to give them this experience. “