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Rival project chosen ahead of Sixers arena proposal

The Delaware River Waterfront Corporation (DRWC) has selected The Durst Organization as the lead developer for a project in the Penn’s Landing area of Philadelphia, ending plans by the Philadelphia 76ers NBA basketball team to build a new arena on the site.

It emerged last month that the Sixers were exploring the possibility of building a new arena on the site, although the plans were not at an advanced stage and the team had insisted that any project would not be seriously considered in the immediate future.

The Sixers would have funded the new arena through the Neighbourhood Improvement Zone programme and no direct appropriation of taxpayer money would have been needed.

Ultimately, the Sixers’ project was not chosen, with the DRWC instead opting for a proposal from The Durst Organization that will include the development of parks and other public spaces, mixed-income housing and community engagement. The Durst Organization has pledged to invest over $2.2bn (£1.69bn/€1.86bn) into the city’s Delaware River Waterfront, with an eight-year construction timeline having been outlined.

The project is set to support over 28,000 construction and construction-related jobs and generate additional tax revenues of $62m for the city and $113m for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The development will create and sustain 1,850 permanent on- and off-site jobs and will generate ongoing, annual tax revenues of $35m to the city and $21m to the Commonwealth.

Alan Hoffman, chairman of the DRWC’s board of directors, said: “After considering four strong proposals, we came to the conclusion that The Durst Organization offered the best plan to meet the goals and criteria identified through the public engagement process for the Master Plan for the Central Delaware.”

The Sixers’ proposal included a 19,000-seat arena as part of a wide-ranging complex that would have also included commercial space and a hotel.

In a statement reported by 6ABC News, the Sixers said: “We were proud to put forward a proposal for Penn’s Landing centred around equitable economic development and growth.

“Our project aimed to be part of the solution while delivering a world-class experience for our fans and the city at large. We are grateful to the DRWC for their dedication and commitment to this process, especially through an extraordinarily difficult time for the City of Philadelphia.

“As we continue to pursue our future home, we remain committed to a vision that anchors a world-class venue with transformative community development, job creation and economic empowerment for low-income and minority communities.”

The Sixers currently share Wells Fargo Center with NHL ice hockey franchise the Philadelphia Flyers. The arena is owned by Comcast Spectacor and the Sixers’ lease at the facility is due to expire in 2031.

Image: NBA