Well, the practice facility that is. Reports surfaced last week that the Sixers were close to finalizing a deal that would being construction on a state of the art practice facility being built in Camden, New Jersey.
The mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, responded with a statment to the Inquirer on Friday (via Philly.com):
“This is the best sports town in the U.S.A., the fourth-largest media market in the country, this is the Philadelphia 76ers we’re talking about – Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Allen Iverson,” Nutter said. “This is a Philly team – so I think fans, frankly, would be very insulted at any idea that part of the team would be outside the City of Philadelphia.”
“We know that New Jersey is certainly throwing, or trying to throw, a whole bunch of cash in their face,” but he described Philadelphia’s offer as “very competitive.”
Nutter said that he spoke to O’Neil as recently as Thursday and that he and managing owner Josh Harris had said they were “looking to build a relationship with the City of Philadelphia.”
“This is a new ownership group from New York coming into the Philadelphia marketplace, and it would seem to me they would want to build a reputation and a relationship with the Philadelphia fan base before taking any steps to partially move the team out of the city,” he said. “They are the Philadelphia 76ers, and they belong lock, stock, and barrel in Philadelphia.”
Plain and simple, the 76ers will have a relationship with Philadelphia if they start to win. The Flyers practice in New Jersey and that sure hasn’t hampered their relationship with Philadelphia. If the teams win, people will come. Who really care where they practice? Not to mention, putting a professional sports team’s practicing facility in a city like Camden could do wonders for the economy of that city.
Regardless, of course the mayor of Philadelphia is going to fight for the Sixers to build their training facilities in the city that the team plays in.
This may turn into something, or it may turn into nothing. At the least, it’s something to keep track of while we all await the NBA Draft. I wish it was more exciting than determining the location of the 76ers practice facility, but beggars can’t be choosers.