Today, I saw an article discussing how the Philadelphia 76ers were trying to gain public support for their proposed arena. In the VenuesNow.com article, the 76ers claim that this project would invest “$250 million toward housing units” and include minority-owned businesses in the development area.
Interestingly, the article interviews the co-owner of VenuesNow who is very passionate about bringing this new arena to fruition.
I mention this because the article does the same thing that some bias outlets make when discussing details for a new sports home.
- Claim that the arena is “privately financed” when we still don’t know who is paying for numerous things, i.e. land beneath the arena? Check.
“The Adelman partnership brings a passionate lifelong Philly resident and 76ers fan who says the privately financed $1.5 billion development would be a win-win-win for the city”
“Adelman says the arena would resuscitate a struggling part of the city’s downtown“
- Mention how bad their current home place is? Check
“He says the 76ers invested $10 million of their own money to address substandard locker rooms. He mentions other concerns, including suite options and dressing rooms for musicians and performers.”
- Discuss all the promises of housing that will not be put into the contract as mandatory? Check
“As 76DevCo meets with community leaders about the 76 Place at Market East development, the group has committed $250 million toward mixed-income housing as part of the development.”
I could go on and on. All of these points have been mentioned again and again on this site. None of them are remotely accurate. Like the fact that arenas, ballparks & stadiums do not change the economics of cities. Yes, ones put downtown can look nice and help the image, but they do zero financially for the city.
“One of the main arguments in favor of creating a new stadium is that it would create jobs, stimulate consumer spending from those with jobs, and create outside spending from tourists visiting. However, sports facilities attract neither tourists nor new industry…tourism does not see an increase as the result of a sporting event, as often a similar amount would be spent by that city’s residents in a different city, thus creating no real net gain. This results in cities bankrolling these new stadiums, without bringing much economic benefit back to them.” — Cities Should Not Pay For New Stadiums, Michigan Journal of Economics, 01/15/2022
More importantly, the idea that this deal can always be looked at as privately funded is crazy. Nobody can say whether this project is actually privately funded until all the details of the project are released by the team. As I linked above, we don’t know who is paying for the land where the new arena would sit. Yes, there have been articles stating how they may hand it over. But nothing is finalized. Furthermore, the 76ers still intend to demand a “tax increment financing deal” despite claiming they would forgo it. That would cut their property tax rates and allow them to take taxpayer money to fund the construction. This deal is far from privately funded.
The latest promise by the 76ers seems to be more publicity of their “pledge” to make minority-owned business a “priority in the construction and operation of the arena”. I have written several times about how teams across all sports in the United States talk about how important this aspect is to their projects. Yet, it is almost always forgotten when the building begins. We saw this recently happen in Buffalo.
Why does it happen again and again? Because the promises of minority-involved businesses and things like that are never put into the contract as mandatory or even essential. In Detroit, the owners got hundreds of millions for a new arena and promised to hire local construction workers. They didn’t come close to what they promised yet all the city could do is fine them. More recently, in Buffalo, there is nothing that the city can do if the Bills do not come close to their promises for minority workers and businesses outside meaningless fines and bad publicity.
Recently, executives from the 76ers have been touting to the media that they are listening to locals thanks to their listening sessions. Let’s see how these are going.
“The Philadelphia 76ers held the first of five online forums about their new arena plans this week, one that some people criticized for only showing team executives on camera while not allowing the public to speak live. Sixers co-owner and lead developer David Adelman replied during the event, “Some people are disappointed that they can’t harass us on Zoom,” and the team subsequently rebranded the forums from “community meetings” to “community info sessions,” all of which went over about as well as you’d expect.” — FieldOfSchemes.com, 08/18/2023
Is it any wonder why others have called these sessions “terrible”?
This is the same organization who built an $82 million dollar practice facility in Camden, New Jersey. Then demanded the city give them $82 million in tax breaks. Years later, when the city of Camden realized that they had given the 76ers too much money back in tax breaks, the 76ers fought them on returning it.
Barring the 76ers making their minority promises in writing as mandatory, why would or should anyone believe that they will come through on it?