The business is meeting stiff opposition.
It seems that the residents of the Philadelphia Chinatown district really don’t want the National Basketball Association’s 76ers ownership proposed arena in their neighborhood. The Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation is of the opinion that the proposed arena “imperils the future of Chinatown.” Meanwhile 76ers ownership is dangling the possibility of creating temporary construction jobs as part of its pitch and has gotten support from Philadelphia residents who do not live in the Chinatown district. Philadelphia’s African American Chamber of Commerce and Black clergy have endorsed the project. The 76ers ownership claims the proposed $1.3 billion venue would be privately-funded. But privately funded means there is government financial assistance in terms of tax breaks or incentives.
Philadelphia politicians ultimately have to decide if the project is worthwhile which sets up a battle between the political donors and the local residents. Do the politicians listen to lobbyists or do they listen to voters? Two former Philadelphia mayors, Ed Rendell and James Street, think 76ers owners should make a push for the building after voters elect a new mayor in November. In 2020, the present 76ers ownership wanted to build an arena in the waterfront area at Penn’s Landing but the proposal was rejected by the Delaware River Front Corporation. In December 1993, then owner Harold Katz was ready to cross the Delaware and move his team to Camden, New Jersey near the Ben Franklin Bridge which connects New Jersey to Philadelphia. Eventually Philadelphia politicians did pave the way for a new arena to be built on the south side of the city. Katz sold his team to Comcast in 1996. In 2011, the Harris-Blitzer group bought the 76ers and denied that they were going to take the team to Newark, New Jersey after getting the franchise. Storefronts in Chinatown have signs in their windows, “No Stadium”. The neighborhood battle has begun.
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