Everything we know about the Sixers’ plans for a new Center City arena
A $1.3B proposal backed by Sixers owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer would move the team out of South Philly.
Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer are partnering with Philadelphia developer David Adelman on a $1.3 billion proposal to try to build a new NBA arena at 10th and Market Streets.
It’s not the first time one of Philadelphia’s four major professional sports teams has floated the idea of a venue outside of the South Philly sports complex. And it’s not the first time the Sixers have shown interest in vacating the Wells Fargo Center to find their own home.
Here’s what you should know.
So will this actually happen?
The 10th and Market design is just a proposal, meaning there’s no guarantee it will get the green light. And the last time a sports stadium was proposed in Center City, the plan met a ton of opposition.
When a Chinatown location favored by then-Mayor John F. Street was in the mix for the Phillies’ new home in the early 2000s, the design showed a stadium taking over a span of four city blocks at 13th and Vine. Neighborhood advocates, ticket holders, and even Phillies executives snubbed the proposal.
Since 2004, when the sluggers settled into Citizens Bank Park — just a few steps away from their old home in Veterans Stadium — many have lauded the ballpark for its design. But it’s been hard for some to get over the location, which feels disconnected from the rest of the city.
And the Sixers have tried and failed to generate support for a new home a bit closer to Center City. In 2020, the franchise lost a bid to build a new complex along the waterfront at Penn’s Landing, when the Delaware River Waterfront Corp. instead chose the Durst Organization’s mixed-use, 3.5 million-square-foot proposal for the area.
The Sixers valued their proposal at $4 billion but would have required a big tax break. Durst’s $2.2 billion proposal was privately funded.
Why are the Sixers looking to move?
The Sixers have been looking to move out of the Wells Fargo Center since at least 2020, when the team made a formal proposal to develop the area along Penn’s Landing.
Part of the reason is that the team’s lease at the arena expires in 2031. Comcast Spectacor owns Wells Fargo Center, along with its other primary tenants, the Flyers and the Wings, the city’s professional lacrosse team.
“The 76ers have long enjoyed a strong relationship with Comcast Spectacor, but the organization is exploring all options for when its lease ends at Wells Fargo Center in 2031,” a Sixers spokesperson said in 2020.
So, why do the Sixers want their own arena?
Owning the venue provides additional revenue streams and gives the team priority in scheduling games, which the Sixers aren’t afforded in their current home. There may also be concerns about the condition of the aging Wells Fargo Center, which is undergoing $300 million worth of repairs that began in 2016.
Where would the new Sixers arena be?
The proposed arena was originally expected to take up the entire block from 10th to 11th and Market to Filbert Streets, meaning part of the Fashion District Philadelphia, the mall formerly known as The Gallery, would be demolished. Subsequent reporting revealed it would actually expand across Filbert Street and replace the current Greyhound bus terminal that currently sits there.
“We have that under contract,” confirmed Adelman, who declined to provide more details about the arrangement, citing a nondisclosure agreement.
The location prioritizes getting fans to and from Sixers games via public transportation. SEPTA’s Jefferson Station, which serves multiple Regional Rail lines, the Market-Frankford subway stop, and PATCO trains to South Jersey, are all within a short walking distance to the potential arena.
When would it be ready?
According to the proposal, the Center City venue would be ready to open by 2031, just in time for the Sixers’ current lease at the Wells Fargo Center to expire.
The proposal lays out an eight-year timeline, beginning now, which would look like this:
Two years of approvals (2022-2024)
Two years of design (2024-2026)
One year of demolition (2026-2027)
Three years of construction (2028-2031)
How big would it be?
The proposed arena would seat 18,000.
The Wells Fargo Center seats 20,478 for Sixers games and 19,306 for Flyers games. Lincoln Financial Field, for comparison, seats 69,879 at full capacity.
What would it be called?
The proposed stadium doesn’t have a name attached to it yet, but the development project is called 76 Place. That’s similar to when the Barclays Center in Brooklyn was under construction and the project carried the name Atlantic Yards.
Historically, stadiums and other venues bear the name of a corporate sponsor that buys the naming rights. Most recently in Camden, the former BB&T Pavilion (previously the Susquehanna Bank Center, and before that the Tweeter Center) was renamed the Freedom Mortgage Pavilion.
Los Angeles’ Staples Center, which is home to the Lakers, Clippers, Kings, and Sparks, became Crypto.com Arena late last year. The crypto-trading platform paid more than $700 million for the naming rights, the Los Angeles Times reported, ending the recognizable name it bore for 24 years.
We asked Philadelphians what they would like the arena to be called, and their responses didn’t disappoint.
Who would pay for all this?
The proposal from the trio of billions backing it — Sixers managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer and Campus Apartments CEO David Adelman — “appears to be all private investment, no public dollars,” Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent Hughes, who is familiar with the proposal, told The Inquirer.
That differs from the Sixers’ 2020 bid for the Penn’s Landing development, which would have cost $4 billion to build, including tax subsidies worth as much as $885 million to help pay for the waterfront development.
Mayor Jim Kenney’s administration confirmed on Thursday that no city funding is planned to be used for this project.
What’s been the reaction from local politicians?
In a word: mixed.
Kenney released a statement in favor of the new arena plan on Thursday morning, saying “we are excited about the energy that this will bring to Philadelphia’s historic retail district.”
But others, especially some on City Council, aren’t quite sold. And with Kenney’s term ending after next year, it’s worth noting how his potential replacements feel.
Councilmember Helen Gym, who previously fought against the Phillies’ proposed Chinatown stadium as well as a proposed casino in 2009, is one of several Council members who could run in next year’s mayoral election. She said Thursday that she is “extremely skeptical” of the proposal, raising the possibility of it being a major issue in the race.
“I’m not interested in development that says that it will be merely tolerant of, inclusive of, adjacent to Chinatown,” she said. “It should actually benefit the community whose development trajectory has benefitted the entire city of Philadelphia.”
Council President Darrell L. Clarke, who preferred a previous plan that would have seen the Sixers build an arena on the Delaware River waterfront, said potential economic growth and job creation are “welcome news” — but that the community engagement will be key throughout the process.
“We need to give this new proposal all the attention, scrutiny and due diligence that it deserves,” he added.
Others are more in line with the mayor’s pro-arena stance.
At-large Councilmember Allan Domb, himself a developer and another potential mayoral candidate, supports the proposal.
“This couldn’t have come at a better time,” he said. “It will help with public safety.”
Others worry it could gentrify the neighborhood and displace many local residents.
“The basketball stadium also increases the housing prices around the surrounding area,” said Wei Chen, civic engagement director of Asian Americans United. “It will gentrify my community, and many people — many immigrants who are new to this community — will get pushed out.”
He said the Sixers’ failure to reach out to the community before putting the plan forward was “very disrespectful.”
What would happen to the Wells Fargo Center?
The Wells Fargo Center, owned by Comcast Spectacor, is undergoing a slew of renovations. In addition to the Sixers, the stadium is home to the Flyers and the Wings. It also hosts Villanova basketball games.
“We’ve had a terrific partnership with the Sixers for decades and look forward to hosting the team in this world-class facility until at least 2031,” Comcast-Spectacor said in a statement on Thursday. “We’ve invested hundreds of millions alongside the City, Phillies, and Eagles to make the South Philadelphia Stadium District an incredible destination for sports, entertainment and our passionate fans. We think it rivals any in the nation and will continue to draw the best events -- the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a perfect example.”
Comcast Spectacor was formed in 1996 when Flyers founder Ed Snider partnered with the larger Comcast Corporation in a joint entertainment venture around the time of the original Spectrum’s opening.