No, we’re not talking about losing fans. As the team looks to embark on a fruitful playoff run, the Sixers and their higher-ups want a new arena, and they tried to make that happen back in 2020.
Micheal Tanenbaum of the PhillyVoice reported, “The Philadelphia 76ers’ lease at the Wells Fargo Center expires in 2031. Owner Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment had proposed a new arena at Penn’s Landing, but the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation chose a different plan.” The proposed plan that won was Penn’s Landing Park, which is set to start construction in 2023 and finish in 2026.
One of the reasons why the Sixers want to move is that they want full control of their arena — right now, they don’t, because it’s owned by Wells Fargo, so all revenue from various concerts and events go through them, and the Sixers want a piece of that pie. Also, the Sixers don’t want to be in South Philly anymore; they want to be in a more populated area daily. To see the Sixers play in a different area that’s not Philadelphia just won’t feel right, especially due to how much history this team has here.
In a statement given after not being chosen, the team said, “As we continue to pursue our future home, we remain committed to a vision that anchors a world-class venue with transformative community development, job creation, and economic empowerment for low income and minority communities.” Tanenbaum of the PhillyVoice reported, “With the Sixers losing out on this bid, some worried that the team would consider moving to Camden, where their practice facility and offices are located. A source told PhillyVoice that the team will ‘continue to explore options in Philadelphia for a future home.’” Even if the team finds a space right outside of Philadelphia, I don’t imagine them changing the team city name if it’s in a place like Chester County or King of Prussia. But Jersey — now that’s just something I think a lot of Philly fans and Sixers legends wouldn’t stand for.
Last year, the Wells Fargo Center got some renovations. Mike Sielski from the Inquirer reported in 2021, “Comcast Spectacor will resume on Monday its $300 million renovations of the Wells Fargo Center, a project that was stalled for more than a year by the COVID-19 pandemic and that could affect the long-term relationship between the company and one of the arena’s primary tenants: the 76ers…”
When asked whether the renovations were in any way intended as a carrot for the Sixers, Camillo said, “We’re not thinking about our transformation in terms of enticing the Sixers to stay. We’re thinking about it in terms of every guest who comes into the building, and the Sixers are certainly part of that. But we also host Flyers games, concerts, family events and shows. This is an investment in the city, the community and the stadium district. We want to provide the city of Philadelphia with a world-class arena. Look, I don’t want to get into speculation about how the Sixers think about this,” she added. “The Sixers know we want them to stay.” So who knows what new story will be up this year as the Sixers continue to find a new location for an arena.
Philadelphia and the Sixers need to find a common ground on where they’ll be able to go. Philadelphia has plenty of abandoned areas that need revitalization and are still in a prime area in the city (Christopher Columbus Boulevard) that are near the water where the Sixers can make room for an arena, and then some. But obviously, there’s a lot of logistics that go into this, so we’ll see soon enough. 2031 is nine years away for the Sixers to find a new place to go. Speaking to Philly natives plays a key role in what might influence what the Sixers and the city decide to do and plan. Asking native Peter Ireland a few questions, he explains some key points.
“The Sixers might look at leaving as the last possible option after looking at what’s in the city available… No other market outside of Philly in this area holds more desire than the actual city.” He went on to say, “I remember players like Allen Iverson, and right now, Joel Embiid’s effect on the city — not only on the floor, but helping in the community. It can’t be replicated anywhere else.” His viewpoint is a sentiment a lot of people share: no one thinks about the inner workings of how these major teams can operate in their cities. The new arena would look beautiful on the skyline and the area it’s in, and it could also provide a lot of opportunities for jobs and events to be hosted in the city. The Flyers, who they share the arena with, haven’t reported any plans to leave Wells Fargo, especially with the new upgrades coming to the arena.
Isaiah Ireland is a first-year Media & Culture major. II978280@wcupa.edu