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New 76ers arena fouls out with locals | The Triangle

New 76ers arena fouls out with locals

Photo by Kasey Shamis | The Triangle

Since Aug. of 1996, the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia has been home of the NBA Philadelphia 76ers, as well as the Philadelphia Flyers. Come 2031, however, the contract between the 76ers and the stadium expires, which means the team will have to find a home of its own like other NBA teams. The plan? A new arena built right in the heart of Center City. 

The Sixers’ managing partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer established a new and separate development company, called 76 Devcorp, for the project. The company is chaired by David Adelman, a local real estate developer. The new arena, estimated to be about a 1.3-billion-dollar project and expected to have around 18,500 seats, is planned to be located just outside of Philadelphia’s Chinatown.

Though the city-centered arena may seem ideal for sports fans, many of the residents in and around Chinatown have strongly opposed the building of the new arena. The development plan will tear down part of the Fashion District Mall, a former Greyhound bus station, and a regional rail hub. 

According to the New York Times, surveys have found that over 90 percent of business owners, residents, and even visitors in Chinatown oppose the construction of the stadium.

Several concerns, such as traffic blocking, an increase in rent, displacement of businesses and residents, an increase in crime rates and the lack of preservation of Chinatown’s culture, have been raised. This scenario has been seen before numerous times. 

Philadelphia’s Chinatown fears it will end up like Washington D.C.’s Chinatown following the building of the Washington Wizard’s new complex in 1997- The Capital One Arena. The residents of D.C.’s Chinatown faced impossible parking, restaurants shutting down and a skyrocket in housing prices. Many people left Chinatown to move out to the suburbs because they could not handle the new way of living. The neighborhood is a shell of what it used to be prior to the building of the arena, and Philly’s Chinatown residents are refusing to suffer the same fate. 

Chinatown leaders have assembled protests that have attracted thousands of people and have filed dozens of open record requests for clear communication from developers and government officials. Petitions have also been seen passing through the city to draw more support for the halting of the construction. 

The developers of the new arena think that 76 Place will be beneficial for the city as it will provide jobs, reestablish downtown, and have a long-standing economic impact. The city was supposed to release studies on the impact 76 Place would have in 2023, yet the release date has been pushed back to some unknown time in 2024. 

The studies, according to Philly Voice, include an economic analysis and the community impact assessment, which are supposed to reveal reports on different scenarios by consultants and not to say whether the arena should be built or not. As of now, the results of the study have yet to be disclosed to the public. 

The team also promised to establish a $50 million community benefits agreement designed to address the concerns of the Chinatown communities as well as other surrounding communities. It is expected to include money for improving public safety, supporting small businesses and creating affordable housing.

Adelman is considering no other locations for the arena, so tensions have become high between developers and Chinatown residents and activists. The plan is to start construction early in 2026 and is expected to end in Sept. of 2031, right before the 2031-2032 NBA season.