Sixers co-owner and arena project lead developer David Adelman was on Crossing Broadcast a few weeks ago.

One of the perks of leaving South Philadelphia in 2031, he explained, was the competitive advantage that being a primary tenant could provide for the Sixers.

“We want to control our own destiny,” Adelman said in June. “What do I mean by that? When you look at schedule, and you guys are sports guys so I want you to do some research – we play more 5 out of 7 nights and more back to backs than anyone else in the league, on average. We’ve been home once for Christmas the last 11 years, I think. The way the schedule works is the Flyers get their dates, the concerts get their dates, and then we get the rest. You don’t see us with a lot of weekend day games, but you see the Flyers with a lot of them. Great, it’s their building, they should do what they want…. (But) you guys do the math. We wound up as the three seed (in the playoffs) this year. Imagine if we had a few less back to back games or a few less five games out of seven or six games out of seven. That makes a difference.”

Speaking recently with the Snow the Goalie crew, Flyers Governor and Comcast executive Dan Hilferty talked about the idea of the Sixers leaving, and disputed the thought that the Flyers get favorable schedule making at the Wells Fargo Center:

First things first – did Hilferty spill the beans regarding upcoming Christmas games? We will look into that. (EDIT – the clarification here is that December 25th is currently being held for the Sixers, should the NBA award them a Christmas Day game. not a confirmed Xmas game, but the date is available)

But yeah, he disputes the schedule issue, saying that it’s a collaborative thing where the Flyers and Sixers take turns picking dates. Adelman suggests that it’s tilted towards the Flyers via the blocking off of concert dates and non-hockey, non-basketball events. That’s the hang up here, with each side presenting a different scenario, one that’s hard for us to fact check. We’d have to sit down at the table or join the conference call or however they communicate, because otherwise it’s just a classic he said/he said kind of thing.

What we can do is look into some of the specifics Adelman told us, and the Sixers’ messaging has been pretty consistent on this issue. In pointing out what they call this disadvantage, the Sixers will say 1) that they typically exceed the NBA league average when it comes to playing five games in seven nights and 2) it’s the same for back-to-back games going back about a decade now. That’s what he told us on the YouTube show.

We do not have access to proprietary scheduling data, which is sent to teams by the NBA league office, but we can reverse engineer the talking points, to an extent, using NBA Stuffer and other websites. This is where we need an intern for data parsing, but I was able to find out that:

  • The Sixers, this year, were one of eight teams that twice had to play five games in seven nights (the other 22 teams did this once or not at all).
  • They played, this year, 13 back to backs, while seven teams played 14 and five teams played 15.
  • The Sixers played 43 times this year on one day of rest, which was top half of the league.
  • Same for two days rest, which was also on the higher side, so they generally had a more compact schedule.
  • It looks like the back to back issues crested during the process era, and have moved closer to the league average in recent years. Keep in mind, Comcast sold the Sixers to HBSE back in 2011.
  • They have indeed only played one Christmas home game over the past 11 years. They’ve played three on the road during that time frame, and there was a huge gap between 2002 and 2016 where they didn’t get any Xmas games at all, because the team stunk and was not compelling. The thing about Christmas is that you only get those coveted slots if you don’t suck, and the Sixers did a lot of sucking over a 15-year span.
  • Over recent years, it looks like the 5 in 7s have been hitting over the NBA league average more than the back to backs, so opposite trends for those data sets.

So the fact checking verdict is that yes, Adelman is telling the truth, though some added caveats are necessary. Over the past decade or so, the back to back number exceeded the league average in the early part of HBSE ownership, while in recent years the B2B issue has subsided to the mean while the 5 in 7 numbers went up. There have been some ebbs and flows over the past decade, and the two talking points seem to run inversely proportional, but they do hold up.

The other side of it is this, and I think this is an underrated topic that nobody brings up – are the Flyers disadvantaged by having to compromise? They don’t say this publicly, but they, too, typically play more back to backs than most NHL teams. According to More Hockey Stats, the Flyers have been above the back to back NHL league average every single season since 2013. They play a LOT of games on zero days of rest. Hypothetically, they might benefit in that department if the Sixers leave.

For some added context, I went back and looked through the Wells Fargo Center schedule during the combined Sixers/Flyers regular-season schedule. The Sixers played December 23rd at home, then Disney on Ice took place from December 25th through the 31st. There were, if I counted correctly, 43 non-Sixer, non-Flyer events at the arena, which includes everything from Wings games and Villanova games to concerts like Carrie Underwood and short runs like the Jurassic World Live Tour. They opened the arena for Phillies World Series watch parties and had some new, one-off things like the Barstool Invitational. From early October through the end of the NHL and NBA regular seasons, it looks like there were about 125 events over a seven-month period. That’s a pretty busy calendar and there always seems to be something going on down there, be it nightly games or those weekend doubleheaders. I think that’s one of better anti-arena arguments out there, the question of how the Sixers are going to fill those non-basketball nights. I also think, and this is a personal opinion, that Comcast’s strongest position in this debate is that a lot of Philly sports fans just don’t want to go to Center City, don’t want to use SEPTA, and think there’s nothing wrong with the sports complex. Hilferty is essentially speaking to that thought when he talks about evolving the stadium area:

Again, the dispute between the teams, at least in comments made public, is how those non-Flyer, non-Sixer dates are scheduled. We’ve got two sides saying two different things.

There is, however, one thing that can be proven without any kind of fact checking at all, and this might be the most important part of the story –

If the Sixers leave, then both teams will be de facto top dog in their own building and no collaboration will be required.

No compromise, no nothing. The Flyers will get first priority for everything, then concerts/events/Wings/Villanova, however Comcast would like to operate. And the Sixers would get to address their self-described competitive disadvantage at the same time. Going separate ways ultimately would render the dispute N/A, which makes it interesting to think about the teams partnering on a 50/50 deal to open a new arena in South Philly or the Navy Yard. If they do that, wouldn’t this issue of compromise and collaboration persist?

It may be best, coming from an outside perspective, for the Sixers and Flyers to just go their separate ways. That means the Flyers would have no obstacles in their building and have unfettered access to all of the best NHL time slots. 26 year old Matty Michkov on prime time, all the time in 2031. I am here for it. And the Sixers will have the same thing in their building. Compromise is great, but if you don’t have to do it at all, that’s probably better. Then we would have five teams in the Philadelphia region who are the top dog in their own buildings, with no tenants, no shared scheduling, and no collaboration required.

For what it’s worth, Adelman and Hilferty are friends, and have known each other for some time. I am sure that text messages and/or phone calls have been exchanged. Perhaps they will have to meet in the Octagon to settle this, if amicable means are unattainable. Put them on the undercard of the Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg fight, but ahead of the Bagel Boss vs. Lenny Dykstra bout. Get Damon Feldman to promote.

Full episode here with Hilferty: