Before you read:
Philadelphia’s Chinatown community is pushing back against a proposal for a new Philadelphia 76ers arena in the Center City neighborhood.
On Wednesday, more than 200 residents and activists filled an evening town hall at Ocean Harbor Restaurant on Race Street to question and speak up against plans to construct the arena, according to reports. Around 100 more people flocked to Little Saigon Cafe next door to watch the event via livestream.
There was reportedly frequent booing over the arena proposal, which seeks to construct a new $1.3 billion home for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, also known as the Sixers, at 10th and Market Streets.
The arena, which is scheduled to open in Philadelphia’s Fashion District by 2031, was first announced in July. Since then, several community members and organizations have been pushing back, explaining that the establishment will bring about displacement, gentrification and traffic issues, in addition to the loss of Chinese culture in the area.
“Why can’t you stay at the Wells Fargo Center?” one community member asked during the recent town hall, while another said, “Our city has enough issues, why build an arena?”
Among those who attended the town hall were David Gould, the Sixers’ chief diversity and impact officer, who addressed concerns that audience members brought up.
“As we’ve done with every meeting, our goal is [to] try to get accurate information out about the project and also express our genuine desire to do right by the community,” he told the crowd.
He also shared that the project’s developers intend on continuing their conversations about the proposal with a steering committee composed of businesspeople, religious leaders and Chinatown community members.
However, the audience expressed their frustration, saying that those involved in the project have not been communicative enough since the beginning.
“To make sure that for the first time ever out [sic] community voices, our residents, our small business owners, the folks who come to live and worship and learn and grow that their voices are heard for the first time. Every meeting has been invite-only,” audience member Mohan Seshadri was quoted as saying.
Despite the Sixers reportedly claiming that they want their new home to be near Chinatown to boost the area’s economy, community members intend on continuing to voice their opposition.