Sixers Chief Communications Officer Says Howard Eskin is "Uninformed and Unimaginative"
Busy weekend for Sixers arena PR wrangling.
It started on Friday, with new Comcast boss Dan Hilferty suggesting that the company could perhaps sell part of the Wells Fargo Center to their main tenant. Hilferty then did an interview on 94 WIP with Glen Macnow and Mike Sielski, which was followed by former mayoral candidate Sam Katz calling up the station and criticizing the proposal. The Inquirer then published a (very good) column titled “Sixers arena proposal should not be a zero-sum game,” developer and co-owner David Adelman quote tweeted one of the guys on the editorial board, and Katz jabbed Adelman, resulting in this:
No hidden agenda here, Sam. You’re a numbers guy so I will keep it simple: zero (0). Privately financed by my partners and I. https://t.co/R9236TwuKY
— David Adelman (@david_adelman) April 8, 2023
And then Howard “The King” Eskin jumped in, prompting a reply from Sixers Chief Communications Officer Dave Sholler:
Howard, I respect everything you’ve accomplished in this market but takes like this are tired. You’re uninformed and unimaginative. The city needs privately funded projects to combat these issues. Whenever you swing by for a pregame press conference, I’d be happy to discuss.
— Dave Sholler (@DaveSholler) April 9, 2023
Look forward to addressing in person but I’m going to check you on every convenient false narrative you’re being fed. Every single one. Respect the heck out of what you’ve done, but no free passes on this one.
— Dave Sholler (@DaveSholler) April 9, 2023
Alright then. Quite a bit to unpack here.
First things first, Howard has had an agenda against the Sixers going back to the Clinton administration, so nothing he says about the local basketball team can be taken seriously. If the Sixers paid college tuition for seven teenage cancer survivors, Howard would criticize it. He could even stumble into the best and most comprehensive anti-arena stance of all time (and maybe he’s even right here!), but it wouldn’t be in good faith because the guy hates the Sixers and Harris-Blitzer Sports and Entertainment more than anything. I am not sure why this is, but Howard hasn’t had a positive thing to say about the Sixers since the collapse of the Soviet Union, while carrying water for the Eagles during that same time period.
Sholler, on the other hand, is a PR guy, a literal spokesperson for HBSE, so his stance is obvious. He’s going to laud the project potential no matter what concerns are presented, legitimate or not. Essentially this is a Twitter kerfuffle between a guy who loathes the Sixers and a guy who works for the Sixers, so this is a good exercise in taking things at face value.
The most interesting thing I found over the weekend was this passage from a Jeff Gammage story in the Inquirer:
Could the Sixers truly return to the Wells Fargo Center, after months of criticizing the facility and presenting their own plans as a big, important step for Philadelphia?
“Yes,” Hilferty said, “I think it’s realistic.”
In his first public comments on the Sixers’ landscape-altering proposal, Hilferty made clear in an interview with The Inquirer that he wants the team to stay at the Wells Fargo Center. He said he’s ready to work with the Sixers on shared business and entertainment opportunities — including potentially selling part of the Wells Fargo Center to the basketball team.
“We’re open to creative discussions about how we go forward together,” he said. “Our goal is to bring everybody back in the fold and figure out what we can do together.”
The new chairman of Comcast Spectacor, which owns the Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center, where the Sixers are an unhappy tenant, wants it to conclude with the owners of both teams united, announcing they’re joining the Eagles, Phillies and city officials in a massive transformation of the South Philadelphia sports complex, the plans for a downtown arena discarded.
Now this is intriguing. I don’t know if the Sixers owning part of the WFC does anything for them, because their main motive here is to actually own the arena they play in and control the event schedule. The Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, and Union are all resident #1 in their own building, but not the Sixers, and whether or not Josh Harris is some absentee/carpetbagger who is only in it for the money, people have to realize why the idea that “there’s nothing wrong with the sports complex” is not a sentiment shared by the team. If you were a renter and people who were not your landlord told you to stay put because everything is fine, you’d probably roll your eyes as well.
Was against the arena on Market but now that Howard’s against it, I think I’m for it. https://t.co/iLjEBsblVv
— Johnny Goodtimes (@JohnnyGoodtimes) April 10, 2023