Bold $1.3 billion Philadelphia 76ers arena project aims to be ‘start of a trend’

The latest planned billion-dollar sports venue won’t be paid for with taxpayer money.

On Thursday, the 76ers announced a $1.3 billion plan to build “76 Place at Market East,” in the heart of downtown Philadelphia, privately financed by a group of billionaires. Philadelphia 76ers owners David Blitzer and Josh Harris formed 76 Devcorp with Philadelphia real estate billionaire David Adelman to lead the project.

“It’s not about doing what’s advantageous — it’s about doing what’s right,” Adelman told Yahoo Finance. “Coming out of COVID, Philadelphia as well as lots of big cities, have lots of needs and not enough money to go around. For us, it just didn’t seem appropriate to take any of those much needed dollars and divert that into a project like this.”

A concept rendering of 76 Place. (Photo courtesy of 76 Devcorp)

Construction on the new project, dubbed “76 Place,” is expected to happen from 2028-2031 with the Sixers playing in the arena starting in the 2031-32 NBA season. The project is expected to generate $1.9 billion in overall economic output during construction and $400 million into the local economy annually once the arena opens.

The plans were announced just one month after the Golden State Warriors hosted the NBA Finals in their newly opened and privately funded $1.6 billion Chase Center.

As team valuations rise and a new NBA media rights deal that could eclipse $75 billion looms, Adelman hopes more teams will continue the trend of using private money to host their lucrative sporting events in contrast to organizations like the Buffalo Bills, which has proposed a $1.4 billion new stadium almost entirely footed by taxpayers.

“I hope it’s the start of a trend because, again, cities need the resources for those in need and they shouldn’t be using it for things like this when the private sector is capable of making it work on their own,” Adelman said .

Malik Ellison of the Philadelphia 76ers starts a fast break against the Brooklyn Nets at the Thomas &  Mack Center on July 10, 2022 in Las Vegas.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Malik Ellison of the Philadelphia 76ers starts a fast break against the Brooklyn Nets at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 10, 2022 in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The arena will be utilizing part of the old Fashion District Mall in Philadelphia. Perched above a popular public transit stop on the city’s most popular train, 76 Devcorp wants the arena to be a centerpiece inside the city. The Wells Fargo Center, where the Sixers currently play, is more than five miles outside the city from the current location.

Adelman drew inspiration from projects such as Golden State’s newer locale and Milwaukee’s ‘Deer District’ while planning for the project over the last year and a half, he said. Those new arenas emphasized the stadiums themselves but also building up the area around them and finding a way to monetize more than just the sports games themselves.

“At the highest level, bringing people to a venue where they can have activity and inject money into the local economy is what you really want to do,” Adelman said. “So to be able to come down to our venue before a game or after the game just makes so much sense for us.”

Josh is a producer for Yahoo Finance.

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