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Sixers season ticket-holders are split on team’s $1.3 billion proposal to build arena in Center City- Keith Pompey, The Philadelphia Inquirer

todayjulio 23, 2022

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James Harden of the Sixers warms up for his first home game at the Wells Fargo Center on March 2, 2022.

© CHARLES FOX/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNSJames Harden of the Sixers warms up for his first home game at the Wells Fargo Center on March 2, 2022.

Paul Seitz is excited about his beloved 76ers’ plan to build an NBA arena at 10th and Market Streets.

Selfishly, he could walk to the proposed arena from his residence near Broad Street and Fairmount Avenue. But even taking that out of the equation, Seitz, who became a Sixers season ticket-holder last season, is excited about the impact the proposed arena could have on Center City.

“I think this move just lines up with the work you’ve been seeing in the city as a whole the past couple of years of trying to clean up certain areas,” he said, “and just in general, revitalize the city and bring people back to live inside the city limits.”

If the Sixers want to build a downtown arena, they and the city have to answer some questions first

Seitz, 30, is a York native who attended West Chester University. Aside from a brief stint in New England, he’s lived in Southeastern Pennsylvania after graduating from college, and he’s witnessed the city’s revitalization first hand, especially in his neighborhood.

“I lived there for … it will be three years in December and the change in that amount of time. There was an Aldi [supermarket] built, a brand new GIANT [supermarket] built, probably four or five apartment complexes,” Seitz said.

“So in regards [to the proposed arena], we’re looking at essentially a decade from now. I think it’s exciting and I think it will help further revitalize the downtown and surrounding neighborhoods.”

But what about dependable public transportation and parking downtown? The $1.3 billion arena would be erected atop a key transit hub: SEPTA’s Jefferson Station and stops for the Market-Frankford Line. It’s also a short walk from the PATCO train station.

And, is there going to be enough parking near the arena when those driving among the 18,500 fans for each home game are added to the mix?

Renowned Temple University professor Marc Lamont Hill, an avid Sixers fan and longtime season ticket-holder, is skeptical until he sees a transportation plan.

“Traffic is already tight,” Hill said. “Twenty-five-thousand people at 11th and Market at 7 p.m. feels like an unmanageable burden under the current arrangement. It works in places like Brooklyn [at the Barclays Center] because most people take the train.

“This can work, but it should be accompanied by serious expansion of highway capacity, if possible, and public transportation. There’s also serious concern over what this move will have for Chinatown.”

Chinatown coalition calls Sixers arena proposal a threat to their neighborhood’s identity

Chinatown business owners and residents are ready to fight the proposal. That could be something to pay attention to.

But when it comes to transportation, Addison Hunsicker believes things will be resolved by the time the Sixers plan on completing the arena — in time for the 2031-32 season.

Hunsicker, a data analyst for the Philadelphia Union, has been a season ticket-holder since 2016, his freshman year at Temple.

“It’s nine years away,” he said. “They have nine years to address the problem. If they don’t do it in nine years, that’s a whole different story than the arena. I think the arena is the least of the people’s concerns at the point. … They have nine years to figure out a plan and invest in SEPTA to make it worthwhile.”

Hunsicker grew up in Collegeville and attended Perkiomen Valley High School before attending Temple. The 24-year-old currently lives in Fishtown.

But he understands the current concerns suburban fans have with taking public transportation to sporting events in the city. He’s experienced them while traveling to South Philly for games.

“Growing up an hour away and going to a lot of Phillies games, all of the teams that are in the stadium complex, it’s not easy to get to by any means on a weeknight,” he said. “I feel like more people would be open to taking the train if it was easier to do.

“I think the biggest problem is after the game, you have to get on the subway, get to Center City, go on one of the train stations, Suburban or Jefferson, and hope you didn’t miss the train for that hour. But with Jefferson Station right there, they could have it where you have four five trains on standby going out to all the suburban lines in Pa., Jersey … Delaware, too.”

Hunsicker feels that would be a solid option for suburban fans who don’t want to drive over an hour into Center City for weeknight games.

But Tracey Ulrich-Matalon hasn’t complained about making long commutes into the city to watch her beloved Sixers. She was born and raised near 11th and Porter Streets in South Philly, and after graduating from St. Maria Goretti High School, she attended Boston University. She hasn’t lived in the area since high school. Now a resident of Morristown, N.J., a New York suburb, she nevertheless has remained a lifelong Philly sports fan.

“I can get home in two hours,” Ulrich-Matalon said of returning to Morristown. “But coming in during rush hours, can take me three, three-and-a-half. It’s nuts.”

But that’s driving to the Wells Fargo Center. She knows her drive to Center City will be more complicated.

“I can get off [I-95] at Callowhill, and get there quicker instead of coming down to South Philly,” Ulrich-Matalon said. “It’s still worth it. I mean, I love the games.”

Not only does she loves the games, Ulrich-Matalon is excited about the proposed arena. As a teenager, Ulrich-Matalon would take the subway into Center City to visit the Gallery after school.

She’s fully aware that the location has changed over the years.

“But I love the thought of that east of Broad [Street] is coming back,” Ulrich-Matalon said. “I come to the city a lot. When I come to town and I don’t feel like driving all the way home after a game, I just grab a hotel in Rittenhouse because it’s easy.

“I know the restaurants and like the area. But I really love the idea of spending more time east of Broad again. That’s been a lot of years for me.”

Sixers fans, players and local residents react to proposed $1.3 billion arena in Philly’s Center City

Ulrich-Matalon knows that not everyone is happy about the location of the proposed arena. She saw negative comments on social media that made her upset.

One comment she read stated “you couldn’t pay me to go to Center City.”

“I think people are being very closed-minded about it,” Ulrich-Matalon said. “Yes, crime is up across the country. There’s no sugarcoating that. But this a team that’s looking to invest in our downtown, which I think is really promising. I love that about the Sixers.

“So I feel like they can add more hotels and restaurants and things for people to do, you make it a whole experience when you come to a game.”

Escrito por Pedro Mejia

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