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Philadelphia mayor candidates weigh in on proposed Sixers arena

What Philadelphia mayor candidates said about proposed Sixers arena
What Philadelphia mayor candidates said about proposed Sixers arena 02:14

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- "No arena in the heart of our city!" was the chant Thursday morning outside City Hall, as groups opposed to the proposed 76ers arena in Center City rallied against the plan. 

The Save Chinatown Coalition, No Arena in Chinatown Solidarity and other groups met to turn in 15,000 signatures they say they gathered from concerned citizens.  

"Council and the folks in City Hall are going to have to take us seriously," Jenny Zhang, an organizer and Chinatown church-goer, said. "We're their boss, we elected them and we're their constituents. It's time for them to listen to what the people want." 

Protesters from the Fashion District even put on a fashion show, with some dressed in clothes lined with postcards from residents who would be impacted by the arena. Thirty-six hundred of those postcards were delivered along with the signatures Thursday.  

Organizers say they want to hear directly from their elected officials about where they stand on this plan. 

REQUIRED READING: After the arena came, the Asian population of Washington's Chinatown shrank

"If you're in favor of this project, you need to tell us to our faces. And if you oppose this arena, you need to stand with us and make your voice loud," said one protester, who fashioned dozens of postcards into a mohawk. 

The 76ers say they have the support of several trade unions in the city, the African American Chamber of Commerce and other groups. In March, the team also announced what it called "concrete commitments" to create economic opportunities in the local black community.  

Earlier this month, Mayor Jim Kenney announced the city would carry out its own independent study of the impacts from the proposed arena. While organizers were happy to hear of the city's interest, they aren't exactly sold on the study so far.  

"We do think there are some issues with the impact assessment that they submitted. It is not as robust, and there are a lot of missing pieces," Zhang said. 


The fight over the arena will also likely fall to the next Philadelphia mayor, who will be chosen in November. CBS Philadelphia reached out to mayoral candidates to see where they stand on the project: 

Amen Brown 

"I support the prospect of the Sixers arena project and the much-needed jobs it can bring to our city. The arena has the potential to positively impact the economic conditions of our city while providing significant opportunity for local businesses. I also believe we must prioritize the interests of the people in the community, especially those most affected by this project. By working with experts, community leaders, and key stakeholders, we can identify the best path forward for a sustainable and equitable outcome." 

Jeff Brown  

"Jeff has expressed his support for the arena as a transformative project that would provide good, family-sustaining, union jobs and economic opportunity for thousands of people from across the city. He also strongly believes that the concerns of potentially impacted communities must be addressed for the project to move forward and he advocates for real, good faith conversations between all affected parties." 

Allan Domb  

"I support efforts to bring in private sector investment like an arena to revitalize East Market Street, but I have concerns about recent reports, and as mayor, I would lead a transparent and inclusive process to evaluate the proposal with all stakeholders, especially adjoining neighborhoods like Chinatown." 


Helen Gym  

"Helen Gym has expressed significant skepticism about the project, including its financing and whether the Sixers will seek public subsidies. Deals like this fall through time and time again. East Market Street is littered with broken promises and billions of dollars in taxpayer money that didn't deliver any returns. Meanwhile the owner of the Sixers just put in a $6 billion bid to buy a division rival of the Eagles. Helen is clear: Chinatown must thrive, and billionaires don't need taxpayer subsidies. She won't wait ten years to revitalize East Market Street and showcase how a walkable, small business friendly, diverse downtown can get going now." 

Cherelle Parker  

"As the poorest big city in the nation, Philadelphia doesn't have the luxury of engaging in reflexive opposition to any project that has the potential to offer a game-changing economic impact, especially for Black and Brown workers and businesses. However, we still have not seen a full plan that shows the economic impact of the arena and we will continue to hear from the residents in the neighborhood who have a right to have a say in what land use takes place in their community. As Mayor, I look forward to having all of the information and bringing all sides to the table to come to the conclusion that is right for Philadelphia, Market East, and all of the surrounding communities."  

Rebecca Rhynhart  

"Any project of this magnitude needs to be seriously considered given the jobs and economic growth opportunity that comes with it. With that said, there are many unanswered questions and issues remaining, including community concerns, traffic issues, and the finances of the project, ensuring there is no need for public subsidy. As Mayor, I would convene relevant stakeholders including Chinatown and the Sixers to further discuss how we can move forward together" 

Protesters [Thursday] say they want the next mayor to be someone who's looking out for their interests.  

"We need the next administration to stand up to developers such as these folks, to protect the working families and working people of this city," said Will Gross, a small business owner in South Philly who says he's concerned about the proposal's impact on all business owners.  

There is no timetable on when the city will release its independent study looking into the proposed arena.  

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