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Save Chinatown Coalition rallies to safeguard public funds from subsidizing 76ers arena

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On the first day of the new City Council session, the Save Chinatown Coalition voiced their opposition to public funding for 76 Place during a press conference and rally in Philadelphia.

The opposition: Dozens of people participated in the Thursday morning rally, where organizers from the coalition stated that the purpose of the rally was to greet returning city council members and reinforce that their opposition against the new arena remains unchanged. The opposition, particularly in Chinatown, have long expressed their concerns about construction, traffic and the project's impact on the cost of living.

About the arena: In July 2022, development company 76 Devcorp, which is headed by real estate developer David Adelman, proposed a plan to build the new 76ers arena at 10th and Market Streets near Philadelphia’s Chinatown. Developers are aiming for the arena’s construction to begin in 2028 and its opening in 2031 when the basketball team’s lease at the Wells Fargo Center expires.

Adelman has stressed the support of business groups outside of the neighborhood and offered to negotiate a community-benefits agreement that involves business opportunities. However, these were dismissed as propaganda for what critics view as a land grab.

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Seeking support: In the latest news, the Philadelphia 76ers claim to have actively sought public support for their proposed $1.55 billion arena on Market Street, collecting over 30,000 signatures, which opponents point out represents only 2% of the city's population. The team emphasized that the project will not rely on city taxpayer funds but has not ruled out seeking state or federal support.

New concerns: Councilmember Mark Squilla, who initially pledged not to introduce legislation without a commitment against public funding, has faced criticism for walking back his commitment. New concerns have arisen over the possibility of state and federal taxpayers subsidizing 76 Place, especially considering the trend of public money supporting NBA arenas.

“I planned to thank Councilman Squilla for pledging to avoid the mistakes of other places, and committing to prevent 76 Place from taking any public money – city, state, or federal,” Executive Director of Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance Mohan Seshadri said in a press release. “Unfortunately, when Councilman Squilla started walking back that promise, he showed us that all this rhetoric about a 100% privately funded arena is just window dressing. 76 Place could be taxpayer subsidized if Councilman Squilla doesn’t keep his word.”

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The council is currently awaiting a community impact report before considering legislation, expected in February.

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