Philadelphia officials launch independent study on impact of proposed 76ers arena

Officials say they'll look into economic impact, urban planning, parking, and traffic.
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia officials say they will conduct an independent study looking into the impact the proposed 76ers arena could have on Center City and surrounding communities.

The evaluation will be done with third-party consultants. Officials say they'll look into economic impact, urban planning, parking, and traffic.

The $1 billion proposed project, dubbed 76 Place, would be on Market Street between 10th and 11th streets.

The project faces strong opposition from the Chinatown community.

Top concerns include the deterioration of Chinatown's culture, parking, traffic congestion, and increasing rent.

Action News attended a meeting in Chinatown Wednesday night, and many there said they were skeptical the study would be done adequately.

"Any impact study is only as good and as rigorous as what people are commissioned to do and we are very concerned. This was posted suddenly without advanced knowledge of our community," said Ellen Somekawa from Chinatown.

Others said that regardless of what the study finds, they still won't support the new arena.

"There's an aspect where studies may not show what its effect on the community is," said Harry Leong from Chinatown.

"We don't really want the arena in Chinatown, we want the arena to stay where it is," added Talia Young from Chinatown. "We like going to sports events in the sports complex, it seems great to us and we have a cohesive neighborhood."

Councilman Mark Squilla, whose district includes Chinatown, believes the city is staying true to its word by making sure these studies are done before the project moves forward.

Squilla said he's awaiting the outcome of the study to determine how he feels about the proposed arena.

"I'm waiting for the results of the study and then I'll work with those, look at what the impacts are, go back to the community and stakeholders, and decide how to move forward," said Squilla. "There's no indication at this point that them coming into the community would better this community."

"We're dismayed that this continues to rush to cram things through and use big money to make things happen, it's upsetting to us right now," said Somekawa.

Demolition for the proposed arena would start in 2026, construction in 2028, and opening in September 2031.

Action News' Nydia Han recently sat down with people on both sides of the debate to understand the issues and what Chinatown means to the community.

You can learn more here.
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