Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation announces opposition to proposed 76ers arena

PCDC survey finds more than 90% of business owners, residents oppose 76 Place
sign reads "save Chinatown, no arena"
Photo credit Racquel Williams/KYW Newsradio

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More than 90% of people surveyed oppose the Philadelphia 76ers’ plan to build a stadium adjacent to Chinatown, according to the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation’s own poll.

As a result, the nonprofit planning agency said it does not back the proposed arena, falling in line with others in the Chinatown community who have pushed against the project since it was announced in July 2022.

Called 76 Place at Market East, the developers’ plan features a privately funded arena to sit in a part of the Fashion District mall on Market Street, between 10th and 11th streets — neighboring Chinatown.

In a statement published Thursday, the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation (PCDC) said the arena “deeply imperils the future of Chinatown.”

PCDC said it collected more than 230 surveys and held three community meetings with business owners, residents, visitors and others in Chinatown. According to its findings, 93% of business owners, 94% of people who live in Chinatown and 95% of visitors oppose the arena.

“We intentionally set up and created meetings where non-native English speakers not only had the opportunity to speak up about this particular arena issue, but to do it so that they were comfortable speaking in their native language and were comfortable expressing their own opinions about,” said PCDC Executive Director John Chin.

The nonprofit, which was established in 1966, works to protect, preserve and promote Chinatown, according to its mission statement. Chin said that’s exactly why PCDC is against the Sixers’ proposal.

“There were three consistent themes,” Chin said of the survey results. “Traffic congestion is a concern. The second top theme that came up was concern about this loss of Chinatown. And the third thing that was foremost on most peoples’ minds is gentrification and displacement.”

Chin said PCDC will continue to investigate and research.

“It’s not good enough just to say, ‘No, we don’t want it,’” he added. “We have to understand the mechanics, both from a neighborhood quality of life [perspective] but also from the economic standpoint. People are concerned about displacement, rising real estate pricing, pushing small businesses and tenants out. We have to understand how that works.”

A spokesperson for the 76ers issued the following statement:

“It’s disappointing when Market East is in the midst of economic decline and after our attempts to work with PCDC, that they would reach this decision without seeing our official proposal. Our investment will include one of the largest community benefits agreements in the history of our city and country, and focus on the priorities we’ve heard thus far from community stakeholders. In recent weeks, stakeholders continue to come out in support of this privately funded project at this critical time for our city. We remain committed to developing this project in a way that protects the city we love and benefits all of Philadelphia.”

Officials with 76 Place estimate construction will begin in 2028 and the arena will open by September 2031. Developers anticipate 9,000 construction jobs would be created, and 1,000 more jobs would be needed annually to run the stadium.

Developers have previously stated that they are also working on addressing the community’s concerns.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Racquel Williams/KYW Newsradio