The Philadelphia 76ers are making another run at a new arena, creating a new company to oversee construction of a privately funded, purpose-built sports and entertainment arena, 76 Place.
Harris Blitzer Sports Entertainment (HBSE), owner of the 76ers, is partnering with Philadelphia business leader David Adelman on the project, which will be located on a portion of the current site of Fashion District Philadelphia and serve as an anchor to Center City. They’ve created a joint venture, 76 Devcorp, to oversee the project, set to be constructed on a portion of the current site of Fashion District Philadelphia, serving as an anchor to Center City.
The team currently plays at Wells Fargo Center but has indicated several times that a new arena is in the 76ers’ long-term plans. The privately funded arena is expected to cost approximately $1.3 billion and be completed in time for the 2031-2032 NBA season; indeed, groundbreaking for the proposed project is not expected for several years. 76 Devcorp estimates the development will provide $1.9 billion in overall economic output during construction and $400 million annually upon opening to support Philadelphia’s long-term economic growth and sustainability.
“We’re excited for the opportunity to build the future home of the 76ers in Center City,” said David Blitzer, 76ers Co-Managing Partner, via press statement. “I look forward to working with David Adelman and his team to develop and build an impactful arena for our fans, our players and the City of Philadelphia.”
“The Philadelphia 76ers are a storied Philadelphia institution with a proven track record of investing in their community. That’s why we’re committed to building a world-class home in the heart of the City and creating a privately-funded arena that strengthens ties within the local community through investments that prioritize equity, inclusivity and accessibility,” said Josh Harris, 76ers Managing Partner, via press statement. “David Adelman shares our vision for ensuring that the new arena is an anchoring force in the local community, creating well-paying jobs and economic opportunities for those who need them most.”
Adelman, CEO of Campus Apartments, Co-Founder of FS Investments and Founder of Darco Capital, was appointed Chairman of the new development company with a mandate to locate, design and develop a destination that serves as a world-class arena facility, but also a lever for the City of Philadelphia’s economic growth by promoting transformative community development, local job creation and equitable wealth-building opportunities. He was selected to lead the development project for his globally acclaimed accomplishments in real estate development in Philadelphia and nationwide, as well as his dedication to local philanthropy and investments in Philadelphia startups.
“The Philadelphia 76ers’ extensive evaluation of potential sites for an arena over the past two years culminates today with plans to pursue the Fashion District Philadelphia site as the proposed new home of the team,” Adelman said via press release. “The chosen location is a key step in the process of developing a destination that provides Center City and surrounding communities with an economic engine generating activity through 76ers and youth games, concerts, events and more.”
More Than Just an Arena
Rare is the new venue that doesn’t include discussions of community benefits and consideration of the construction on local residents; community benefits is a thorny issue posing a huge challenge to the Oakland A’s, for example, as the team’s plan for a new Howard Terminal ballpark has been made more complicated by the ownership’s poor treatment of the issue. 76 Devcorp officials promise a “robust community engagement process to ensure community interests help drive the plans for the proposed development,” ensuring it fits within the context of surrounding communities and is responsive to the needs of adjacent neighborhoods. That means partnering with surrounding community development groups to create a Community Benefits Agreement that ensures the forthcoming arena has a positive impact from the start of construction to opening and beyond.
“Our pledge is to advance equitable, community-driven revitalization through this project and to ensure the arena is a win for fans, Philadelphia and the surrounding communities,” said David Gould, 76ers Chief Diversity and Impact Officer. “We look forward to listening to and working with the local community, including local organizations, businesses and residents, especially in Chinatown and Washington Square West, to develop a Community Benefits Agreement that results in long-term positive impact.”
Led by HBSE’s $20 million commitment to address disparities created by systemic racism, the Development Corporation is committed to investing in under-resourced communities to advance equitable, community-driven revitalization. A major tenet of the project will be equitable development, bringing community members to the table via new jobs and co-development roles. 76 Devcorp will collaborate with Mosaic Development Partners, a Black-owned, Philadelphia-based real estate development company with experience in affordable housing and inclusive communities. In January, Josh Harris invested $10 million into Mosaic Development Partners to support their innovative work to expand equitable development across Philadelphia communities.
Image courtesy HBSE.