Philadelphia/ Sports
AI Assisted Icon
Published on May 08, 2024
Philadelphia NAACP Endorses 76ers' $1.55 Billion Arena Project Amidst Local DivisionsSource: Google Street View

The Philadelphia branch of the NAACP is throwing its weight behind the construction of a new $1.55 billion arena for the Philadelphia 76ers in Center City, a move that has divided local opinion. The proposed 76 Place would take up residence at Market Street, nestled between Filbert and Market streets and 10th and 11th streets, replacing part of what is now the Fashion District Mall. In a statement, Catherine Hicks, the president of the Philadelphia NAACP branch, highlighted the project’s potential for economic upliftment, noting "This presents a significant opportunity for individuals in underserved communities to access meaningful employment, economic stability and a pathway to success," as reported by CBS News Philadelphia.

The organization’s backing is largely hinged on promises from the Sixers to bolster connections with the Black community. Commitments include the creation of a $2 million fund to help prepare Black-owned businesses to become vendors, suppliers, and concessionaires at the new arena. Moreover, the team has committed to let Black-owned businesses run nearly 40% of 76 Place's food, drink and concession operations. "From the start, we said that 76 Place should reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our city," 76 Devcorp chair David Adelman told WHYY.

Aside from the support of the NAACP, the Sixers' arena plan has also received an endorsement from the Black Clergy of Philadelphia. Notably though, many in the Chinatown community, merely steps away from the proposed site, are staunchly opposed to the project. The concerns of Chinatown's residents and business owners are varied but include fears of cultural erosion, traffic congestion, and rising rents that could displace local communities. These worries were captured by 6abc Philadelphia.

As part of the partnership with the NAACP, the Sixers have also committed to participate in community events and potentially offer space in the arena for the NAACP to hold its own community activities, thus deepening the ties between the organization and the team. The partnership hopes to ensure "that the Black community is considered and heard in a meaningful way that creates lasting change," Adelman expressed in an interview with WHYY. The proposed arena, a centerpiece of the agreement, thus aims to be more than just a sports venue but a catalyst for communal prosperity and inclusion—at least, that is the plan laid out on the proverbial table.