Philadelphia Chinatown community leaders and critics are speaking out against the 76ers’ recent announcement that it will cover a series of impact studies in the neighborhood for its planned $1.3 billion arena.
Key details: The developers of the planned Sixers arena will reportedly raise funds and put the money into a pot that Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), the city’s public-private economic development agency, can later use to hire consultants to conduct a series of impact studies related to the arena.
The first two studies will reportedly have a total cost of $655,000 ($530,625 for the community-impact assessment and $125,000 for the economic analysis), while the cost of the third one is still undetermined, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Why they are paying: In a joint statement with the city and PIDC, Joy Huertas, a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney, declared that “taxpayers should not foot this bill.”
Announced on Wednesday, the city and PIDC reportedly chose New York-based real estate planning company BJH Advisors, in partnership with Philadelphia firm Sojourner Consulting, to conduct the community-impact assessment. CSL International, a company specializing in sports and entertainment with offices in Texas, New York and Minnesota, will be conducting the economic analysis and projections study.
Huertas noted in the statement that the Sixers would only provide the funds for the studies and would not be involved in the evaluation process.
A different route: The recent development came months after Philadelphia City officials announced they would conduct an independent study on the matter.
Speaking to Crossing Broad Sports in early June, Sixers co-owner David Adelman said he was glad the city is going through with the studies, saying that “if someone thought I did it, they’d think I had my thumb on the scale. If Chinatown did it, they had their thumb on the scale.”
The community reacts: In a statement to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance Executive Director Mohan Seshadri opposed the decision for the Sixers to pay for the studies.
“The people doing the studies know who is paying,” he said. “And they have a profit motive to pay attention to who is paying. They’re going to want contracts in the future. They’ll orient the studies around the needs and wants of the developer.
Mary Yee, a Chinatown representative to the advisory committee who also previously worked as a Redevelopment Authority planner, said the city and PDIC did not address their concerns over the decision after she and others expressed their distress.
The Sixers react: In a recent statement, 76ers arena spokesperson Nicole Gainer said that the recent reactions were not surprising and claimed that the arena “will win overwhelming support” after they find out how the development could benefit the people and the city by creating “thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars of additional tax revenues.”