If you missed the Wednesday morning news, the Delaware 87ers are no more.
The 76ers G-League team will now be known as the “Blue Coats,” part of a makeover that includes a new name, new uniforms, new logo, new branding, and new everything, really. They’ll play the 2018-2019 season in a state-of-the-art, 140,000 square foot Wilmington facility, leaving their current home at the University of Delaware’s Bob Carpenter Center.
The imagery is consistent with the Sixers’ colors and revolutionary theme. The uniforms and court design feature the likeness of founding father Caesar Rodney, Delaware’s representative in the Second Continental Congress, who rode from W̶i̶l̶m̶i̶n̶g̶t̶o̶n̶ Dover to Philadelphia on horseback to cast a tie-breaking vote for American independence.
Here’s the cool new logo:
I dig it.
Sixers’ President Chris Heck was good enough to spend a few minutes with Crossing Broad before last night’s game, and gave us a bit of background on the re-brand:
Crossing Broad: I guess I’d start by asking you, “why?” Why did the organization want to do this re-brand and why was now the right time to do it?
Chris Heck: It was pretty simple; we had an opportunity to re-brand because we were moving. In Newark, we were not the University of Delaware. It’s their home and their facility and it wasn’t ours. That’s just the way it goes. So when we got a chance to have our own place, we said, ‘what’s the optimal setup?’ None of us were here at the time when the name was chosen, and, quite frankly, we went through five years of confusion. We had a chance to do this thing the right way. I just happen to live in Delaware and probably care about it more than most, but yea, it was important to get it right. We thought the extension of the 76ers brand and showing that it’s part of the program, without confusing people, was the right direction.
Crossing Broad: Did you know, then, from the beginning, that you wanted the name and the imagery and the branding to be consistent with the parent club – that red, white, and blue revolutionary theme?
Heck: Yeah, so much so that we’re even going to be naming the field house down there as the 76ers Field House. The idea there is, ‘hey, we’re doing this in South Jersey with Camden and the training complex, sort of extending our brand beyond center city, and now can we do that in Delaware as well?’ There’s a million people that live in Delaware. Can we get our hooks into them and have them be passionate about the 76ers? We think we’re halfway there, but maybe this completes the cycle.
Crossing Broad: To that point, on a macro level, do you feel like you’ve established a foothold down there? Do you feel like you’re making inroads with Wilmington and the local community?
Heck: Yeah, I think it’s logical, right? Because Delaware is unique. You have it in football and some other sports where they’re split between Baltimore and Philly and even Washington, D.C. On my home television, I get the Orioles games, the Nationals games, and the Phillies games. The good news is that there’s no basketball team in Baltimore. Can we make it also a very strong basketball state? It’s on its way.
We had three kids in the Sweet 16 – there was an article written in the New York Times about those three kids from Delaware representing Duke (Trevon Duval) and Villanova (Donte DiVincenzo and Peyton Heck*). And then Trevor Cooney was a year ago, he went to Syracuse. There’s been great basketball heritage but it’s just been kind of small and we want to expand that opportunity for the rest of the state.
Crossing Broad: What’s the status of the field house? Do you have a date for the groundbreaking?
Heck: There’s going to be a ceremonial groundbreaking; they’re already working on it right now. We already have steel in place. But there will be a ceremonial groundbreaking, hopefully before the playoffs, so in a couple of weeks.
*Chris’s son Peyton plays for Villanova. He’s a walk-on.
Here’s the mock-up of the new field house, which will hold 2,500 fans, plus retail and office space and two indoor turf soccer fields:
Looks snazzy to me, has an open vibe to it, sort of like the Camden practice facility.
This thing will be built on a nine-acre piece of land off Garasches Lane and Route 13, near Eden Park: