Are new owners of Sixers hamstrung by renting the Wells Fargo Center?

Comcast-Spectacor has reached an agreement to sell the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team to a group led by Wharton grad Joshua Harris–reportedly for $280 million for a 90 percent share.  Current owner Ed Snider bought the team in 1996.  The Sixers will remain a long-term tenant of the Wells Fargo Center, which is owned by Comcast-Spectacor. Michael Leeds, a professor of Economics at Temple University, says the new owners are not entering uncharted territory,”There’s simply in effect a rental agreement that the team that is doing the renting obviously will tend to have first choice in the scheduling,” said Leeds.  “When professional basketball was first starting, basketball teams were commonly the tenants and they were rented out space by hockey teams that wanted simply an extra source of revenue.”Brian Ward writes a Sixers blog called “Depressed Fan.”  He hopes the new owners will focus on bringing a winning team to Philadelphia, not on making a ton of money.  “Their financial outlook isn’t that bad, just in  terms of the salary cap in the next 2 to 3 years so bringing someone in there that’s going to make some smart decisions could really turn this franchise around, quickly!” said Ward.Even though his blog’s name is dark, Ward says it’s been fun to watch the young, underdog team.  He says the sale is a good thing,”Comcast’s attention was typically elsewhere, notably on the Flyers and I think it’s good to get some fresh blood in and it’s very good that it’s an individual group buying with their own money and it’s not a corporate owner,” said Ward.  “I always think the corporate owners kinda have to serve too many masters.”John Lord, is chair of the marketing department at St. Joseph’s University.  He specializes in sports marketing and business.”I used to be a huge Sixers fan back in the days of Wilt Chamberlain and the late 60s, I was again–they obviously were an exciting team once they got Dr. J through the championship run in ’83.”The team’s past rosters are full of big names.  But Lord struggles to name current players.”Somebody besides Andre Igoudala?  I can see guys in my mind but it’s hard for me–obviously Elton Brand…uh who else?  Geez.  The names escape me.”Just more evidence of the challenges facing the new owners.

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