The 76ers, Eagles, Phillies and Union are among the growing list of sports franchises that will recognize Juneteenth as a holiday for its employees. Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. on June 19, 1865.
On Tuesday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney announced that he will designate Juneteenth as an official city holiday. City offices and facilities will be closed for the holiday, starting this Friday.
As private businesses, the sports franchises that operate in Philadelphia have the option to remain open.
The announcement for the Sixers came from Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment, which stated it will close Friday for all teams, venues, and companies within its portfolio.
Besides the Sixers, whose offices are in Camden, the other entities of Harris Blitzer Sports and Entertainment are the New Jersey Devils (and Prudential Center), NBA 2K League’s 76ers Gaming Club, NBA G League’s Delaware Blue Coats; esports organization New Meta Entertainment (NME) and its competitive esports division, Dignitas; as well as the Sixers Innovation Lab and HBSE Ventures.
A spokesman for HBSE and the 76ers said, “The organization is continuing its commitment to fostering a culture of respect, diversity, inclusion and equality.”
The spokesman added that “HBSE and the 76ers will continue to use the platform of sports and entertainment to combat systemic racism and injustice in the cities it serves. The 76ers expect to roll out more initiatives to drive change in the community in the coming weeks.”
An NFL source confirmed the ESPN report that the Eagles offices will be closed Friday in observation of Juneteenth. The source says the Eagles intend for employees to take Friday to reflect, and in the future June 19 will be a day of community service. Eagles employees received an email outlining these plans on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, the Atlanta Hawks announced Juneteenth as a holiday, as did the NFL and a number of its teams.
A source told The Inquirer that the Phillies are off on Friday for Juneteenth.
A Union spokesperson said the team plans on “using Juneteenth as a day designated for education, reflection, and action,” though the spokeperson did not say the team is giving its employees the day off.
Unlike the area’s other teams, the Union are in full-team training because MLS is resuming in early July. They are on track to be the first Philadelphia-area pro team to play games again.
”We are bringing in an outside speaker, Micki Davis, Chief Diversity Officer at Widener University, to educate the staff on Juneteenth as well as on racial and social justice issues,” the spokesperson said. “Additionally, we will use the day to outline a series of action steps, sourced and inspired by our staff and community leaders, that our organization plans to implement. In the future, June 19th will also be a day of community service.”