A mammoth new sports complex is coming to the less developed side of the Christina River in Wilmington and will be the new home for the Philadelphia 76ers farm team.
Larger than the Chase Center on the Riverfront, the 140,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose sports complex, to be known as the "76ers Fieldhouse" will be constructed on nearly 9 acres of land off of U.S. Route 13 and Garasches Lane.
The Delaware 87ers will call the new facility "home" as they seek to move from the Bob Carpenter Center in Newark.
"For a city our size to be branded with the 76ers and having a $25 to $30 million project built down here, it reminds us that we have a terrific city, and there's a lot of people who have confidence in this city," Mayor Mike Purzycki told WDEL in an interview.
The facility can host 2,500 fans, but when not being used by the Delaware 87ers, Purzycki said it will be open to underserved youth in the city.
"It's going to be a facility for all of the kids in the city to use for a whole variety of purposes, which I think gives them a strong sense of pride about their city and the kind of facility that they can play in." said Purzycki.
Details on how youth will use the facility, whether it's through schools or youth leagues haven't been hammered out yet. It's also unclear whether access will be free.
Purzycki said in addition to basketball, the facility will be used for indoor soccer and lacrosse. It will have three full-sized, professional basketball courts, two indoor turf soccer fields as well as a "world-class" athletic training area, as well as retail and office space.
The indoor turf fields will fill a gap in Delaware's sports infrastructure. Currently, the indoor turf fields in New Castle County are single fields at the Kirkwood Soccer Club, La Bombonera, & Mi Canchita, all near New Castle, plus the MTown Sports Complex in Middletown.
While the G League will find a home in the new venue, there doesn't appear to be plans to recruit a minor-league hockey team to join the 87ers.
"I don't see it having an ice rink," said the mayor.
He also told WDEL he didn't envision the arena being used as a concert venue.
76ers President Chris Heck said the new facility shows the organization's commitment to Delaware, which started when the team moved to the Carpenter Center in 2013.
“The Philadelphia 76ers are truly the Delaware Valley’s team, and we’re fortunate to have an incredible fan base across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. We are thrilled to partner with BPG on 76ers Fieldhouse in Delaware to serve as home to both our NBA G League team and hundreds of youth teams and athletes each year,” 76ers said Heck. “We’ve set out to create a facility in a city on the rise like Wilmington for our NBA G League team that furthers the 76ers’ commitment to being leaders in sports performance and athlete care."
The 2,500-seat arena figures to be a better fit for the 87ers, who have averaged 1,316 fans this season before last night's game vs. Northern Arizona. That falls well under the 4,500-seat maximum of their layout in Newark.
Gov. John Carney is thrilled with the addition to the city.
"Importantly, this facility will create jobs, expand opportunities for kids in Wilmington to participate in sports activities, and attract even more visitors to our great state," he said in a statement.
Purzycki said the city would support construction of the project in some way, but just how much it could cost the city wasn't readily available.
"It will be a relatively small amount, and we haven't really discussed the particulars," Purzycki said.
Purzycki is expected to formally unveil the site plan alongside Carney, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Buccini Polin Group at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, November 29, 2017.