Mar 12, 2024 - News

Readers back Comcast Spectacor over Sixers' arena in survey

A rendering of Comcast Spectacor's project to transform the sports complex in South Philadelphia.

This is what the outside of the Wells Fargo Center could look like if Comcast Spectacor's project comes to fruition. Rendering: Courtesy of Comcast Spectacor

Comcast Spectacor's South Philly redesign crushed the Sixers' Center City arena proposal in a head-to-head matchup in Axios Philadelphia's recent survey.

Why it matters: While thoroughly unscientific, the survey drew hundreds of responses and revealed some of the intense opinions and emotions the generational projects evoke.

By the numbers: 81% of the more than 1,100 respondents preferred Comcast's South Philly redesign compared to 19% for the Sixers' 76Place.

Context: The Sixers pitched a $1.5 billion plan in 2022 for an 18,500-seat arena, which includes a residential tower and street-level retail and restaurants open throughout the year.

  • Comcast Spectacor unveiled a $2.5 billion, decade-long plan last month to remake the isolated stadium district into a neighborhood and destination of hotels, restaurants, shops, homes and a new music venue.
 A rendering of the Sixers' proposed arena for Market East.
A rendering of the Sixers' proposed arena for Market East. Courtesy of the City of Philadelphia/Gensler

What they're saying: Many Comcast supporters surveyed said they wanted to keep the sports teams in one place and believed the new amenities could draw people beyond fans. They also voiced concern over how the Sixers' plan would affect nearby Chinatown and traffic.

  • Backers of the Sixers' arena said the project could revitalize a struggling stretch of Center City and the location would be easily accessible via public transportation. They also questioned whether Comcast's plan would ever happen.

Here are highlights of some of the hundreds of comments we received through the survey. Some responses have been edited for clarity and length.

Comcast Spectacor supporters

  • The sports complex project can turn the area into a place you want to go to.
  • I love transforming the asphalt desert of South Philly into a more welcoming and usable community. I dislike disrupting Chinatown and displacing a community already under strain.
  • The concentration of amenities will take advantage of existing transportation infrastructure and serve as a bridge to the Navy Yard. Center City is already too congested.
  • Comcast Spectacor is creating something new in an area with essentially nothing for fans.
  • I love having all of the stadiums grouped together in one complex. I think adding additional resources to that area would get people to go there for games even if they didn't have a ticket for the actual game.

Sixers' plan supporters

  • We need Center City vitality and building out the stadium district won't do that.
  • I like that the arena is on top of Jefferson Station, the busiest station in the city and easy to get to.
  • Center City location is way more transit-friendly and will bring people into the actual city rather than them just driving to a game and then heading home.
  • Market Street needs more activation east of City Hall. This mixed-use project will drive more investment and keep the downtown lively and vibrant.
  • The Center City arena will bring people into the city, not just be a resort on the outskirts.

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