The Philadelphia 76ers officially opened the door Friday to their new state-of-the-art practice facility in Camden, cutting the ribbon on the 125,000-square-foot complex that is now the largest of its kind in the NBA.
Owner Josh Harris said the building on the city’s waterfront “represents a step forward in our mission to become an elite team.”
The team offered tours Friday of the complex’s two regulation-size basketball courts, spacious locker rooms, hydrotherapy rooms, player restaurant and media production studio.
The 76ers will also locate their corporate offices, which will open by early next year, at the site.
Previously the only NBA team without its own training facility, the 76ers come to Camden from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, where they rented court space.
Corporate sponsors at the facility include Virtua, NovaCare Rehabilitation, NFI, Toyota and Kimball Office.
The move across the Delaware River was made possible by a 10-year, $82 million Grow New Jersey award from the state Economic Development Authority that the 76ers secured in 2014.
EDA CEO Melissa Orsen said the facility was "a shining example of the city of Camden's revival."
Like the 76ers, other companies such as Subaru, Holtec, American Water and Lockheed Martin have recently taken advantage of the attractive incentive offerings available to companies interested in relocating to Camden.
Camden Mayor Dana Redd extended a “warm, warm welcome” to the team, saying the complex is just the latest example of the transformation underway in the city.
“We’re so proud that the 76ers can now call Camden home,” Redd said.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) noted that the team was a "phenomenal community partner" in terms of using local labor and other community outreach efforts.
U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Cherry Hill), who as a state senator in 2013 co-sponsored the incentive legislation that the 76ers utilized to build the complex, said college superstar Ben Simmons, who the team selected first overall during this past June's NBA Draft, isn't the only top pick the organization should be excited about.
"They also drafted Camden city, and that's going to be as big of a win," Norcross said.
While Norcross said he believes the finished facility would serve as a way to hush the "naysayers" who argued it wasn't the best use of incentives or space, New Jersey Policy Perspective Vice President Jon Whiten called it a bad deal for state taxpayers.
“The Sixers’ new facility is no doubt a top-notch place to practice professional basketball," Whiten said. "But there’s no reason New Jersey taxpayers should be paying for every single penny of it. This tax break won’t trickle down to benefit local Camden residents and taxpayers. It’s an egregious example of New Jersey giving a big helping hand to someone who didn’t need the help.”