Starting this season, the Philadelphia 76ers’ G-League affiliate will not only have a new name, but a new home.
The Delaware Blue Coats will be moving to Wilmington, Delaware, where Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment is building a state-of-the-art facility that, in addition to the Blue Coats’ arena, will feature three full-size basketball courts, two indoor soccer fields, and a performance and training facility.
Sixers President of Business Operations Chris Heck lives in Wilmington, and, at Wednesday’s groundbreaking event, spoke about the meaning of the project.
“It really resonated with me that we have an opportunity–and really an obligation–to do something special,” Heck said. “The city is on the rise, the city is special in its own right, and it has so much more potential.”
It will also soon house a first-in-class facility that figures to greatly benefit the Sixers’ player development program. The Fieldhouse will give the Blue Coats access to resources few other G-League teams have.
In addition to benefiting players in the Sixers’ development system, the franchise’s new Fieldhouse will have a positive effect on Wilmington’s community, too, as the building will host youth basketball and soccer tournaments and other sporting events.
The significance of that factor isn’t lost on Blue Coats’ General Manager and former NBA All-Star Elton Brand.
“I grew up as a kid in a single-parent home without many options,” he said. “I understand what this means to the community to have a place where kids can go feel safe and have opportunities, have mentors–the Sonny Hills of this world–that can coach you, that can talk to you, that you can lean on. Because it helped changed the trajectory of my life–a building just like this growing up. So, that’s what’s important to me.”
At the groundbreaking Wednesday afternoon, Sixers executives were joined by several local politicians. Wilmington Mayor Michael S. Purzycki and Delaware Governor John Carney were both present, and expressed excitement about the Fieldhouse, and the impact they are hoping it will have on the city.
“When I was elected Governor not that long ago, I made a commitment to work to strengthen the city of Wilmington, which is the commercial center of our state. This will help us do that,” Carney said. “And we’re investing as partners in this facility, because we believe that it will provide the kind of pride and enthusiasm that all of us will be able to ride–to be a successful city, a successful state.”
The 76ers Fieldhouse is scheduled to open late in 2018, and will begin to host Blue Coats’ games in the upcoming season.