By Dylan MacKinnon
Not too long ago, the Sixers announced their plans to build a new stadium. It will be built in The Fashion District, formerly known as The Gallery. The plan is for the Sixers to be able to move into this place when their current lease at The Wells Fargo is up, in 2031. The initial reaction from the fans and the citizens of Philly was somewhat mixed. Many loved the idea of a new stadium in the heart of the city. But others were skeptical of these plans.
But today at The Fanatic, we got to talk to Sixers CEO Tad Brown, Stadium Developer David Adelman, and Chief Diversity and Impact Officer David Gould. Tad and the two Davids explained the plan, and the ways they plan to address those various concerns. And afterward, David Adelman and Tad Brown joined The Anthony Gargano Show as well to discuss the plans on the air. And if you are someone who is skeptical of the plans, you may find what they had to say changes your mind
Let’s start with the transit issues. They are aware of the concerns. But they also see the opportunities. Not only to make taking Public Transit to the game easier than it currently is at the current Stadium but to improve the surrounding transit infrastructure. Think of what it is like at Madison Square Garden. Where you leave NY Penn Station and are already at the doorstep of the Stadium. In this case, you can hop off at Jefferson Station, and you are already about to walk into what is known for now as 76 Place.
David Adelman had this to say when he was on with Anthony Gargano.
“For people who say the traffic and the parking. 20% of our fans currently take public transport to get to a Sixers game. They take the Broad Street line, it’s their only option. We are on top of Jefferson Station. That is the busiest station in the city. 220 access points from PATCO, Northeast Philly, Regional Rail, Trolley, and Subway all hit that one point under our building… To be right there, get off the train, and walk into our arena, is a game changer for our fans and for the experience. And we couldn’t be more excited.”
And Tad Brown also spoke about how 50% of the people who go to Sixers games, already come from Center City. They envision a situation where people can go to work in Center City during the day stay in the city, grab a bite to eat in China Town or other local businesses before the game, before taking a short walk to the game.
Currently, most people drive to Wells Fargo. And while many say it’s convenient, the reality is that the traffic in and out of the stadium is a Nightmare. I personally have sit there on Broad Street for what felt like an hour just trying to get back to the Schuylkill Expressway. And then there are new nightmares waiting for you once you get there.
But the options to get to the new stadium, at least on paper, should be much more diverse. You could take PATCO from NJ, and then hop onto the Subway to get to the game. If you want to take Subway to the Wells Fargo Center, you only have one option, as David mentioned. If you do want to drive, there are many parking garages within walking distance. But the idea is now you will not have to drive. It is one of many options, as opposed to perhaps the only good option if you don’t already live in the city.
One of the things thing they seemed to stress to us the most, both on and off the air, was that they wanted to do right by the city. They want to make that entire area the place to be.
David spoke to that when he was on with Anthony.
“If you think back, that stretch of Market Street, was the center of commerce in Philly 100 years ago. That was the energy, that was the center of the city. Right now it’s not living up to its potential. We’ve got to get the energy back. Josh and David want a world-class team. But here we get an opportunity to get a world-class arena and do something great for Philadelphia. We are going to reinvigorate that part of the city. Bring it back to life. Take a Mall that has been there for 48 years not living up to its potential. Redevelop it into a great entertainment complex, that does not exist in this country right now.”
They spoke about working with the businesses around that area, especially in Chinatown, to make sure they help them, not hurt them. And they spoke about how important it is to not displace any residents or businesses. There are many horror stories around the nation of some big project coming in and tearing apart neighborhoods. That is not going to be the case here. They are committed to doing right by the community they will be moving into. And they are also committed to it being privately funded. Their goal is to bring money into the city and the community, not to be a drain on it.
How it Helps the Team
The Sixers owning their own stadium, as opposed to being tenants, also has a chance to help them as a team. You may notice the Sixers are often in disadvantageous situations schedule-wise. This year they lead the League in back-to-backs, and will twice have to play 5 games in seven days. That is not because Adam Silver hates the Sixers and wants to punish them. It is because they have to build their schedule around the Flyers, who play at the same time of the year, and all the other events that The Wells Fargo Center hosts. But in this new place, they would control when they can use the stadium.
The Sixers never get to play at home on Christmas. They can’t. Disney on Ice takes over the stadium on Christmas Day, and on many of the surrounding days. In the new building that could change. And envision the Sixers and the city hosting an All-Star game, or other big NBA Events. That is the type of thing having a state-of-the-art stadium does for a team and a city.
The stadium isn’t going to be opened for a while. But there is a lot to be excited about with the project. Based on everything they told us today, this could be a big deal for the city. They are committed to helping the city grow. Not to say everything will go off without a hitch. It’s a massive undertaking and there may be those hiccups. But the end goal is exciting. And if you are still skeptical, they understand. But it is worth keeping an open mind. They seem to be going about this the right way.
It is natural to be weary of change. As Philadelphians, we are born with an instinctive fear of it. The stadiums all beating in one complex has been the way for a while now. It’s understandable if you are slow to accept that no longer being the way. But this has the chance to do great things for this franchise and this city. So hold onto your concerns, but give them a chance to prove to you that this is the way to go. Because I can say from my perspective listening to their side, it was very convincing.
You can listen to the full interview with Tad Brown and David Adelman below…