The 76ers’ development arm is partnering with Philadelphia’s Parkway Corporation in an effort to manage the demand they anticipate from fans driving to their proposed Center City arena.
Accommodating an influx of vehicles bringing ticket holders to the arena has been a top concern. Chinatown business owners and residents cited it as a key reason the neighborhood mostly opposes the project.
“That’s number one, the volume of traffic is concerning to us,” John Chin, Executive Director of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, said earlier this week. “The argument that we’ve made previously, [is] it will discourage the typical patron that comes to Chinatown.”
76 DevCo has said it does not intend to build parking as part of the development, and pointed out that there are several existing garages in the area.
If the planned Parkway collaboration bears out, people could opt to reserve a parking spot when they purchase their ticket. That pre-paid reservation would be tailored to the facility closest to their route of arrival to ease roadway congestion using plate-reading technology and associated software. Austin-based Flash Parking is the current tech provider.
Family-owned Parkway Corporation, now in its 100th year, has expertise with and knowledge of the 29 parking facilities within a half mile of the proposed arena site, according to Robert Zuritsky, Parkway president and CEO.
“Some of them are owned by the city, most of them are owned by private industry,” Zuritsky told Billy Penn. Parkway’s facilities in the area are already technologically capable of being incorporated into the plan, he said.
With the collaboration planned to go live in 2031 — when the Sixers want to open the yet-to-be approved arena — he believes lots owned by other firms and the city can be similarly outfitted with time to spare.
All told, Zuritsky said, there’s “12,000 to 15,000 parking spaces that people could use.”
That’s more capacity than the Sixers project they’ll need: around 3,150 parking spaces for a fully sold-out weekend game.
The team’s development arm performed a traffic study published in November 2022. Though the the city has requested additional research to analyze congestion around Vine Street, it lays out a few grounding beliefs about what a sold out evening would entail, including that:
- 7,400 people will come to an arena by car, in 2,960 vehicles — down from the average regular season parking demand of 5,232 spaces at the South Philly sports complex.
- Demand for overnight parking spaces connected to “future residential dwelling units” in the area will top out at 182 spaces.
- 1,850 fans will utilize taxis or ridesharing companies, which can be staged near the arena.
Projections of a sharp reduction in drive-in fans are largely based on increased use of public transit, given the proposed arena’s proximity to Regional Rail, PATCO, and the El’s meeting point at Jefferson Station — right next to the arena.
A concept called “smart routing” is key to making the new parking system work, according to Jon Fascitelli, the CEO of 76 DevCo.
As a consumer, “I’m going to be routed to a lot where the traffic pattern during games is perfectly understood,” Fascitelli told Billy Penn. “It’s going to be computed such that I’m being sent in a direction that has the least amount of impact on the grid to my designated spot.”
Reverend Robin Hynicka, of Arch Street United Methodist Church, is skeptical that it will all be so seamless, given past experience. Hynicka says traffic-generating events like marathons and parades have a “tremendous impact on our programming, our ability to serve our community, our ability to get folks in and out of the church.”
The clergyman said he’s against the arena for many reasons, including all the construction work.
“It’s going to be a construction project that’s going to take six years,” said Hynicka. “They’re going to really disrupt not just what happens in this immediate area but all around it, and this is going to be, I think, a public access nightmare.”
For Fascitelli, the new collaboration is meant to demonstrate that contingency planning with regards to easing congestion is being squared away in advance.
“We partnered with one of the best in the industry, Parkway, to make sure that we have a thought leader in the space,” Fascitelli said, adding that the focus is on “not only the best fan experience, but the best experience for the folks in the neighborhoods around our venue as well.”