Philadelphia 76ers looking to build $1.3 billion arena in downtown

The Sixers’ lease at the Wells Fargo Center will end in less than a decade, and the team is looking to build a new home in the heart of Center City.

The team proposed to build a privately funded arena at 10th and Market streets on the site currently occupied by the Fashion District mall.

Part of the mall is expected to be demolished for the project, dubbed “76 East Market Square. The team said it would bring new jobs and investment to Center City in a Release announcing the proposal Thursday morning.

“We are committed to building a world-class home in the heart of the city and creating a privately funded arena that strengthens bonds within the local community,” said Josh Harris, Sixers Managing Partner.

The $1.3 billion arena would be complete on time for the start of the 2031-32 season, which corresponds to the end of the Sixers’ lease at the Wells Fargo Center. Demolition could begin as early as 2026 and construction could start in 2028.

The project is a joint venture between the Sixers, California mall operator Macerich and Philadelphia real estate magnate David Adelman, owner of Campus Apartments.

Adelman would chair the project’s development company, called 76Devcorp. He said the project was inspired by other downtown arenas, such as New York’s Madison Square Garden.

One of the main attractions of the site is its proximity to public transport. If the stadium is ultimately built there, it would sit above SEPTA’s Jefferson Station and a Market-Frankford Line stop. It would also be two blocks from a stop on the PATCO line to New Jersey.

The Sixers have no intention of asking the city for money, which is how most arena projects like this have been funded for the past few decades. Still, the team would inherit the Fashion District’s property tax cut that would last until 2035, the Inquirer reported.

Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement pledging to work with the team to ensure that the development of a new arena “maximizes benefits to the city and its residents in an equitable and sustainable manner.”

“It was exciting to hear about Fashion District Philadelphia’s proposal, as we believe it is an ideal site for a world-class sports and entertainment arena,” Kenney said. “FDP offers our community a transit-rich location and an incredible opportunity to revitalize the downtown core, ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come.”

The new arena would seat 18,000, which is slightly less than the Wells Fargo Center’s approximately 20,000 seat capacity. The team has been researching sites for a new arena for years.

Earlier this month, some Philadelphians received a survey asking their opinion on three potential locations – the Fashion District, the Navy Yard and Camden.

The Sixers planned to buy a site for a new stadium at Penn’s Landing in 2020, but they were outbid.

Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Wells-Fargo Center and the Flyers, released a statement saying it had a “great partnership” with the Sixers and looks forward to hosting the team until at least 2031.

“We’ve invested hundreds of millions alongside the city, the Phillies and the Eagles to make the South Philadelphia Stadium District an incredible destination for sports, entertainment and our passionate fans. We believe it rivals any what a country and will continue to attract the best events – the 2026 FIFA World Cup is a perfect example.”

The fashion district opened in 2019. It replaced the gallery, a former shopping center built in 1977 that was more isolated from the rest of the city center. The Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust purchased the mall in 2003.

The pandemic significantly reduced pedestrian traffic in the mall, and in December 2020 PREIT handed over control of the mall to Macerich as part of a restructuring plan.

The new stadium could face backlash from Chinatown residents as the community has been wary of large-scale development projects since the Vine Street Highway passed through the neighborhood in the 1980s.

In the 1990s, the Phillies attempted to build a new stadium near 12th and Market streets, but were rebuffed by community groups in Chinatown.

This article has been modified after its initial publication.