The disappointment continues.
The Philadelphia 76ers just saw their season end in a playoff series with the Boston Celtics.
But plans for a new arena could have changed the offseason vibe. The team recently made a proposal for a new arena that would have been a key piece in the redevelopment of the city’s Penn’s Landing Waterfront.
As noted in a Philadelphia Inquirer article, some were concerned the Sixers project would be a draw on public funds. Others thought a new stadium would take up too much of the limited waterfront space.
And in the end, that may have been enough to push the project in another direction.
Approved plan favors park, shops, and apartment and office space
Last week, the Inquirer reported that the Durst Organization of New York was selected to redevelop Penn’s Landing, ending the Sixers’ bid to revitalize the space with a new arena there. The Durst Organization will soon begin its $2.2 billion plan to transform the location.
The finished Penn’s Landing project will feature 12 new towers that include apartments, shops and offices adjacent to a four-acre park above Interstate 95 between Chestnut and Walnut streets.
According to the article, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said in a statement that he valued the Durst plan to complete the project “without the need for a taxpayer subsidy.”
“The Durst Organization’s thoughtful proposal prioritized minority participation and economic impact,” Kenney said. “This is a very large-scale project that will have a great impact on the waterfront for years to come.”
So what’s next for the 76ers?
The 76ers’ lease at the Wells Fargo Center, which they share with the Flyers, ends in 2031. The team is looking for a new home before then. According to the Inquirer, the team’s Penn’s Landing proposal included plans for about a 19,000-seat arena along with apartments, a hotel and commercial space as well.
Team owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer had hoped to finance the project using Pennsylvania’s Neighborhood Improvement Zone program, which allows development bonds to be issued based on future tax revenues from businesses in the area. The same program helped fund an arena in Allentown.
But it won’t be happening in Penn’s Landing.
In a statement released by the team, the 76ers said:
“We were proud to put forward a proposal for Penn’s Landing centered around equitable economic development and growth. 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.”
Some have wondered if Philadelphia could move its arena across the border to Camden, New Jersey, where the team’s practice facility and offices are already located. Camden has also proposed tax breaks to assist in the construction of a new arena. But a source told the Philly Voice that the team will “continue to explore options in Philadelphia for a future home.”
In fact, Pennsylvania’s NIZ program could still be used to fund construction. It would just take place somewhere other than Penn’s Landing.
Trust the process?
Perhaps the plans for the new arena are like everything else the 76ers have done. Fans must simply trust the process.
For now, the disappointment continues.
But other plans are certain to arrive. And most of them should keep the team right at home.
The disappointment won’t last forever.