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Design & Development

Three impact studies launched to assess Sixers arena plan

Featured image credit: Gensler and CBL Real Estate, LLC

The City of Philadelphia has announced that three studies will be carried out to assess the impact of a proposed $1.3bn (£1.01bn/€1.16bn) arena for the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers.

Three requests for proposals were launched to independently evaluate the project. One will focus on a community impact assessment, one will seek an economic analysis and projection, and another will focus on design services consulting.

The Sixers announced plans to build a new arena in July last year, with a dedicated company set up to oversee the project. The arena, which will be privately funded, has been given the provisional name of 76 Place and would form part of the Fashion District Philadelphia.

It is hoped the arena will be completed in time for the 2031-32 NBA season, but groundbreaking is not expected for several years. The timeline for the project foresees that construction will not begin until 2028, after the necessary approvals, design process and demolition work is carried out.

The City of Philadelphia has confirmed this week that BJH Advisors, a real estate advisory and planning firm with expertise in infrastructure and urban planning, community development, financial and market analytics, tax policy and economic development, has been retained to complete the community impact assessment.

BJH will work with Philadelphia-based Sojourner Consulting on the assessment, which will explore how a prospective arena may impact the Chinatown community’s conditions for success. The consultant team expects to hold a public community meeting during the course of its work and will engage with community groups and stakeholders.

The economic analysis and projects will be carried out by CSL, a leading facilities advisory and planning firm specialising in the sports, entertainment, convention and leisure industries. CSL has provided financial analysis on more than a dozen NBA and NHL arenas currently in operation.

Proposals are currently under consideration regarding the RFP for design consulting services. The City of Philadelphia noted that proposals for this RFP are different from the other responses, given that the respondents’ primary function will be to consult on the functional and design aspects of the arena. No design proposal has been submitted for consideration yet.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said: “As we have said from the very beginning, the City has an obligation to complete its due diligence in understanding the impact the proposed downtown arena may have on the surrounding communities before any plans move forward.

“I want to thank the consultant teams who are taking on this important and challenging work, and their efforts will be critical to helping us understand the economic and community impacts of this proposal. We also recognise doing our due diligence will take time. We want to do this right, so we need to let the selected firms do their work over these next several months. We ask for patience and understanding from all interested parties including the community, the developers and the public at large.”

It is hoped that a final report, or reports, will be delivered in the autumn. The City noted that the reports will not lay out recommendations but will assess impacts of potential scenarios either with or without an arena.

Last month, the Sixers revealed new renderings of 76 Place courtesy of Gensler and CBL Real Estate. The arena would have a capacity of 18,500, slightly less than Wells Fargo Center, the team’s current home, which holds 20,478 fans.

The Sixers 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.

When announcing plans for a new arena last year, the team said it was “thankful” for the recent renovations carried out at Wells Fargo Center by Comcast Spectacor, but claimed these improvements are “typical for arenas that are 20 years old and will not significantly extend the life of the building”.