Sixers finding few fans for Chinatown arena

With the City of Philadelphia readying the release of an impact study, the No Arena Coalition is launching its own effort to educate the public with a video and social media presentation on the faults of the impact studies in favor of 76 Place.

The coalition maintains that the studies being prepared to study the expected impacts of the proposed arena are designed to justify the arena rather than accurately analyzing its transformative impact on area neighborhoods.

The coalition has started using the hashtag #Studying76Place to allow city residents to quickly access more realistic assessments of a new arena’s impact on a community.

The latest video by the coalition focuses on the economic impact report commissioned for the City by the consultant group called CSL.

“Philadelphians have no logical reason to trust the city’s studies of 76 Place,” urban planning professor Domenic Vitiello said. “The economic study by CSL is based on totally unrealistic estimates of new events and revenue that 76DevCorp is pushing and city officials are accepting uncritically. Independent experts in arena finance, development and events booking all agree these events don’t exist, will never materialize, and therefore the tax revenues 76DevCorp is promising are a fiction.”

The No Arena Coalition contends that the choice of CSL as the author of the economic impact statement is reason enough to doubt the report. The coalition cited other reports that it believes were riddled with faulty conclusions.

Among the concerns were CSL’s projected benefits of a Washington, D.C. soccer stadium that counted proceeds of sold city land incorrectly. Further, it states that CSL inflated the projected return on San Diego’s baseball stadium by combining spending figures with figures related to a nearby convention center.

The coalition cites an apparent conflict of interest with CSL’s parent company Legends Hospitality Holding Company. Its parent company, Legends, sells seating, naming rights and sponsorships for many of the same venues CSL wrote economic impact statements for.

In 2003 CSL provided data to the city justifying the expansion of the Pennsylvania Convention Center. CSL’s projections stated that hotel stays would increase by 56%. The coalition contends that hotels stays dropped by 26%.

“City officials also refused to allow the economic or community impact studies to assess the arena’s costs for the over 500 small businesses in Chinatown nor others in downtown neighborhoods nearby,” Vitiello said. “These studies purposely avoid a true cost-benefit analysis, and the numbers they are based on are totally unbelievable.”