Looking for Plan B.
It is back to the drawing board for the owners of the National Basketball Association’s Philadelphia 76ers, David Blitzer and Josh Harris, in their quest to build an arena for the team 11 years from now. They were eyeing a Philadelphia-area property as the future home of the team starting in 2031-32 but the Delaware River Waterfront Corporation decided the 76ers proposal was not right for the city at that location. The 76ers lease with the entity that controls the Philadelphia arena ends in 2031. The 76ers ownership plan was to develop a section of the Delaware River waterfront area by creating an arena-village and there was the claim that no direct public money would be used in building the arena. The growing trend in the stadium-arena building game is using the words no taxpayers’ money or no direct taxpayers’ money will be used in the project but that is never the case.
The Blitzer-Harris group has had problems in their relationship with the Comcast-controlled arena over the years. This is not the first time that a Philadelphia 76ers owner has tried to build an arena without the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers involvement. 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 political officials 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. The 76ers ownership denied rumors that they were going to take the team to Newark, New Jersey after getting the franchise. Harris and Blitzer own the NHL’s Newark-based New Jersey Devils. The 76ers arena-village plan probably won’t go away because other property will become available. That is how the arena-stadium game is played.