Philadelphia 76ers owner Joshua Harris is playing with fire. Harris bought the NHL‘s New Jersey Devils and plans to keep the Sixers in Philadelphia, thus squashing rumors of a possible relocation to Newark, NJ.
Harris said at a press conference, “The Sixers are staying in Philly.” He has a lease with Comcast Spectacor, owners of the Devils’ division rival Philadelphia Flyers, to continue playing the Sixers at the Wells Fargo Center.
If the Sixers were to move to New Jersey, they would certainly be going into a small market, making it tough for the franchise to prosper financially compared to staying in Philadelphia. Plus, the league would not allow it since New Jersey already had enough difficulty with keeping the Brooklyn Nets in the state.
The acquisition of the Devils is clearly a business move, considering Harris is a buyout specialist and the Devils lost an estimated $25 million in revenue last season. While other owners have bought franchises in other cities with little protest from fans, this deal is understandably unpopular considering the Devils knocked the Flyers out of their last playoff appearance two years ago.
As for the Sixers, this won’t have any effect. They may play some preseason games against the Nets or another NBA team at the Prudential Center in the future, unless Harris’ group decides to sell the Sixers before that happens.
The only way this hurts the Sixers’ revenue is if die-hard Flyers or Philadelphia sports fans protest this deal by not attending Sixers games.