Philadelphia 76ers Arena Developer Also Tried to Build Downtown Casino

The Philadelphia 76ers revealed plans yesterday for a new $1.3 billion home just steps from City Hall and the famed Reading Terminal Market.

Philadelphia 76ers arena David Adelman casino Pennsylvania
Philadelphia 76ers arena David Adelman casino Pennsylvania
A rendering of the future Philadelphia 76ers NBA home in the city’s downtown area. One of the stadium’s developers unsuccessfully sought to obtain a Pennsylvania casino license in 2013. (Image: Philadelphia 76ers)

Philadelphia businessman David Adelman is behind the development of the future NBA arena. Adelman made his money through commercial real estate and private equity.

Adelman got his start by investing $2,000 in a student housing business called Campus Apartments. Thirty years later, today he controls Campus Apartments and serves as its CEO. The company is one of the nation’s largest student housing firms with more than $2 billion in assets under management in 24 states.

Adelman, a lifelong 76ers fan, is seeking his legacy project with the NBA venue. Adelman has partnered with Sixers co-owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer to move the team’s home from the Wells Fargo Center in Philly’s Stadium District near the Navy Yard to the center of the city.

The privately funded $1.3 billion NBA arena is set for Market Street and 11th just east of City Hall. Construction isn’t expected to commence on the Fashion District site for several years, as the 76ers’ current lease with the Wells Fargo Center runs through the 2030-31 season.

The 76ers said yesterday the downtown arena will become its home beginning with the 2031-32 season.

Casino Bid

David Adelman has become a household name in the City of Brotherly Love. He’s also no stranger to the Pennsylvania gaming industry.

Now almost a decade ago, Adelman was part of a development group in 2013 that sought to build a casino in downtown Philly. The proposed location of the gaming resort was just two blocks east of where the 76ers arena will be built.

The casino project — dubbed Market8 City Center — was made in conjunction with Ira Lubert. Lubert was part of the ownership team that opened the Valley Forge Casino Resort in 2012.

Lubert made millions on his Valley Forge investment after the casino in 2018 was sold to Boyd Gaming for $281 million. Lubert is making another big bet on the Pennsylvania gaming industry in State College where he’s partnered with Bally’s to open a casino at the Nittany Mall near Penn State University.

Adelman and Lubert’s Market8 casino was to have 2,400 slot machines, 82 table games, and a 168-room hotel. The bid included bringing in Mohegan Gaming to run the place.

Live! Loss

Pennsylvania state gaming regulators went a different direction by picking a proposal from The Cordish Companies over Adelman and Lubert’s project. The Baltimore-based casino operator’s pitch for Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia was deemed the winner in the competitive bidding process.

Live! Philadelphia is located in the Stadium District where the 76ers, NFL Eagles, and NHL Flyers currently play their home games. The casino is greatly reliant on stadium traffic, as the casino is in an otherwise desolate part of town with little to no pedestrian traffic.

Adelman helping the 76ers move north into the downtown area is certainly unwelcomed news for Cordish.

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