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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Philadelphia, Las Vegas Sports Projects Face New Questions

  • The 76ers’ proposed down arena draws a fresh round of protesters, supporters.
  • A’s owner gives little new insight on many issues surrounding his Las Vegas plan.
Philadelphia 76ers

Two of the most controversial facility developments in pro sports are facing new rounds of opposition and uncertainty, once again placing their ultimate success in some doubt.

As Philadelphia’s city council held its first legislative session of the year on Thursday, protesters of the 76ers’ plan to build a new $1.55 billion arena in Center City gathered outside, extending what has been months of objection against the plan, particularly from neighboring Chinatown. The council is beginning to consider enabling legislation for the proposed venue.

Among the key issues at play is financing, as the 76ers intend to fund the project privately, only leaving the possibility for federal and state funds should they qualify for certain existing programs. Opponents see that as a likely back door to ultimately taking taxpayer money. 

“Public money should be spent on the public good, not on the wants of billionaire arena developers,” said Mohan Seshadri, executive director of the Asian Pacific Islanders Political Alliance, who was on hand for the protest. 

The team, however, says it has gathered more than 30,000 signatures for a petition supporting the arena, and it has pledged to maintain an open dialogue with the communities most impacted by the arena project.

“There continues to exist misinformation and canvassing allows our team to meet people where they are to provide facts and answer questions,” said David Adelman, 76ers co-owner and chair of 76 DevCo, the company leading the arena effort. 

The prospect of the downtown arena has roiled the city for months, particularly as Wells Fargo Center owner Comcast Spectator have made a fervent push of its own to keep the 76ers at the south Philadelphia arena.  

Little Insight From A’s Owner

More than 2,000 miles to the west, the still-tenuous plan in Las Vegas to build a new Oakland A’s ballpark is arguably no closer to reality. Nearly two months after hitting the planned-but-canceled date to release new renderings for a stadium along the Las Vegas Strip (the original set of drawings was acknowledged by the team to be garbage), questions continue to surround the project. 

With the team pushing to open the new facility by the start of the 2028 season, there is still no clarity on its temporary home for the 2025-27 seasons, whether the facility will have a retractable roof as originally planned, or how well the planned ballpark will work on the relatively tight, nine-acre site.

A’s owner John Fisher made a rare public appearance on Wednesday at an event held by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, but he offered little to answer those questions. He did say the new renderings are still being finalized.

“Nothing ever goes in a completely straight line,” Fisher said. “But we are working really well together with our partners, we have a tremendous team” of architects, designers, and builders. 

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