Entertainment guru Irving Azoff has published a startling criticism of Wells Fargo Center as a row intensifies over the future home of the Philadelphia 76ers NBA team.
Azoff described the Comcast Spectacor-owned venue as “showing its age” and premium hospitality sales there as “dismal” as he responded to social media posts made by the Wells Fargo Center team. The home of the Philadelphia 76ers had taken to social media to rubbish claims by team co-owner David Adelman, citing Azoff, that the city’s live entertainment sector is underserved and requires a second major arena.
In a letter addressed directly to Comcast Spectacor chairman and chief executive Daniel Hilferty, Azoff – the Oak View Group founder and U2 promoter – gave specifics of being unable to book rock veterans the Eagles for a Friday-Saturday at Wells Fargo Center, adding that the venue is unable to sell out other nights of the week due to outdated facilities.
In the strongly worded note, Azoff, the chairman and chief executive of The Azoff Company, said the reason the band is not playing Philadelphia is “is not a lack of confidence in my act or in the Philadelphia market, it’s a specific lack of confidence in your building.”
Azoff wrote: “The venue is almost 30 years old and is showing its age. It lacks many of the amenities found in and surrounding newer facilities, especially those in downtown hubs.”
Azoff added that Philadelphia could host another 50 events annually if a new arena was built with a schedule, design and programming made to cater to both concerts and events. Adelmann is progressing plans for the $1.3bn construction of 76 Place At Market East, which would become the new home of the 76ers and a major commercial, entertainment and residential hub.
“While I understand there is a disagreement between your company and the Philadelphia 76ers about the team’s desire to build a new arena, I do not believe my experience trying to recently book a major concert at the Wells Fargo Center and, more importantly, the insight I’ve gained over the last 50 years that tells me a city like Philadelphia can handle two arenas, should be mischaracterised as a ‘myth’ as part of your efforts to defeat the new arena’s development,” Azoff’s letter continues.
“In closing, I hope I do not learn that my experiences or beliefs are misrepresented as a ‘myth’ again. If they are, your team’s decision to do so will inevitably have a negative impact on my willingness to work with the Wells Fargo Center or other properties owned or managed by Comcast-Spectator going forward.”
Earlier this year, the Sixers revealed new renderings of 76 Place courtesy of Gensler and CBL Real Estate. The arena would have a capacity of 18,500, which is lower than Wells Fargo Center, the team’s current home, which holds 20,478 fans.