Why the Sixers' new arena plan has fans so torn


So the Sixers want to move!

Philadelphia's basketball franchise announced its intention Thursday to build a new arena in Center City that would be ready for the 2031-32 NBA season. (2032? That's not a real year.)

The move would represent a sea change for Philadelphians and the way we consume, attend, and interact with our sports. Teams have played in South Philly forever; the Stadium Complex is one of the more defining features of Philly's sporting culture, a one-stop shop for all four major teams in the city's limits.

MORE: Sixers plan to complete new arena in Center City by 2031-32 season

Unsurprisingly, folks are divided on whether the idea - which the franchise said would be privately funded, while not mentioning potential tax breaks from the city of Philadelphia - of lobbing a $1.3 billion behemoth at the corner of 12th & Market is good (revitalizing Center City, providing a central and walkable destination for fans) or bad (traffic nightmare, harder for suburb-dwellers to attend, destroying the Stadium Complex's history).

Here are some of the takes I've seen from Philly sports fans this morning:

"The move would be bad"

"The move would be good"

"I get it, but..."

Largely, it seems folks are divided on one issue: transportation.

It's true that the arena would be perfectly situated for easy, reliable public transit to and from the games - for those who live in Philadelphia (MFL and BSL), for those who live in the suburbs (Regional Rail), and for those who live in New Jersey (PATCO), not to mention the copious number of buses running around Philly every day.


However, it's also true that a startling number of people who live in Philadelphia and its surrounding regions (and a startling number of people writ large in this country) don't like public transit, or don't trust public transit, or are simply addicted to driving. 

Part of that comes from cities that aren't New York City, Washington D.C., Boston, or San Francisco having bad public transit. SEPTA is not exactly a shining beacon of reliability and volume (go look at the time tables for Regional Rail lines after 9 PM and tell me how many families are choosing that option on a weeknight over their car). While the transit authority could improve both problems in the next nine years... there's been nothing stopping them the past nine, or 19, or 29 years and yet here we are.

I see both sides of the aisle here. There are valid points from all around. The Sixers say today that this is their plan. Whether it remains their plan in 2031 isn't clear. But it's going to be a fascinating give-and-take over the next decade as the franchise tries to reshape Philly sports fandom and Center City in one fell swoop.