New digs at the Wells Fargo Center:
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The old locker room was just kind of whatever. It was pretty small. We’d all be crowded into the corner trying to crane our necks and arms to hear/record what Joel Embiid was saying. The medical room was more or less a closet and it just felt very cramped in that area.
So the gist here is that the Sixers paid to renovate their locker room area, while Comcast is going to handle the rest of the “event level.” They’re doing the renovation of the other locker rooms and various improvements in the non-fan areas of the arena bowels.
That’s a continuation of the money they’ve poured into revamping the Wells Fargo Center over the last few years. The concourse is very nice now, and the food options are extensive. The Revolutionary Row/Assembly Room area with the standing room tickets is a good experience. It’s a solid place to watch a game, though the bowels were totally outdated. It’s especially cold down there and you’ve got a bazillion employees running around, taking out the trash, moving equipment on and off the floor, etc. It’s a wonderful shit show down there.
From an optics standpoint, you may be wondering why the Sixers would pay to upgrade their locker rooms if they’re trying to leave South Philly and build a new arena downtown. When you were a renter, did you pay for a new dishwasher, then leave the apartment anyway? Probably not, but the Sixers’ lease still has eight years remaining, so their thought is that upgrading is a benefit to their current players and helps sell free agents on playing in Philly, even in that eight-year window.
Same thing on the Flyers’ side, which is a Captain Obvious kind of statement. Better facilities attract better players and a better gameday experience attracts more fans. They’ve certainly put a lot of money into the WFC and it’s in their best interest for the Sixers to stick around as a tenant, so from their perspective, they can point to everything they’ve done to make the arena better not just for themselves, but for their main tenant as well.
In the Sixers’ mind, they want to own their building and no longer be a renter, which is the main driver for their exit. I think everyone knows that. They can set their own schedule and just enjoy running the show instead of being second fiddle in their own building.
So what it really comes down to is public perception, and the Sixers’ task is convincing fans (and city officials, and Chinatown) that a new arena is in everyone’s best interest. That’s the challenge here, and when you look at the WFC improvements in recent years, it’s probably harder to sway arena opponents who think there’s nothing wrong with their current situation in South Philly.
Beyond all of that, I think you can read between the lines. The Flyers and Sixers are essentially “partners” right now, but if the Sixers leave and do their own thing, they’re going to become competitors. Comcast will have 45+ dates to fill at the WFC and Bruce Springsteen will now have the option of playing his 4-hour gig at the new arena instead of South Philly. There’s quite a lot to consider here. It’s fascinating.