HomeChinese American15,000 signatures submitted opposing Philadelphia 76er arena

15,000 signatures submitted opposing Philadelphia 76er arena

By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor

They were just two dozen strong, but they came to City Hall armed with 15,000 signatures and 3,000 postcards from Philadelphians all opposed to the proposed 76er arena.

The protesters came from all walks of life, representing not only the Asian community but also members of the Black, LatinX and general communities.

The basketball court and concert venue would border Chinatown and neighborhood activists fear the increased traffic and the expected spike in rents would lead to the disappearance of Chinatown.

Kenny Chiu is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and is a member of Students for the Preservation of Chinatown. He grew up in Philadephia Chinatown.

Will Gross owns a coffee shop in Queens Village and belongs to the Asian Pacific Islander Political Alliance of Pennsylvania.

Both Chiu and Gross say Chinatown has become a part of their lives.

Gross described Thursday’s protest to AsAmNews as a “culminating moment.” He says many city council members are “kicking the can” down the road saying they will wait for an impact study before deciding whether to support the arena.

“The impact study for me is the community voicing concerns,” said Gross. “There’s no more impact study than the constituency that says we don’t want an arena in the heart of Philadelphia.”

Chiu recalls living in Chinatown with his grandma for several years and going to Chinese school there. He’s aware that those before him in the community successfully fought off a federal prison, two casinos and a baseball stadium.

“It’s my time and my generation,” he told AsAmNews. “We’ve been able to experience Chinatown because of the brave community for 50 years.” He says it’s his turn to “continue the tradition of fighting for Chinatown’s right to exist.”

Activists used the postcards denouncing the proposal to design garments, a nod to the nearby fashion district.

A dress made of postcards opposing the Philadelphia 76er arena is modeled by a demonstrator to the cheers of fellow protestors
Save Chinatown coalition

The 76er Devcorp corporation didn’t seem moved by the demonstration. It released a statement saying to CBS News “We remain committed to developing this project in a way that protects the city we love and benefits all of Philadelphia.”

However, ultimately, it could be the City Council that stops the arena. The stadium can’t be built unless the council rezones the area.

“It is a battle between a handful of billionaires that want to take a section of land for themselves versus the people of Philadelphia,” said Gross. “As time goes on more and more people are opposed to what is happening.”

“Yesterday was our day to show the city council that the Philadelphia community is against the arena,” Chiu said. “We’re showing them we have the power of the collective community.”

AsAmNews is published by the non-profit, Asian American Media Inc. Follow us on FacebookX, InstagramTikTok and YouTube. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to support our efforts to produce diverse content about the AAPI communities. We are supported in part by funding provided by the State of California, administered by the California State Library in partnership with the California Department of Social Services and the California Commission on Asian and Pacific Islander American Affairs as part of the Stop the Hate program. To report a hate incident or hate crime and get support, go to CA vs Hate.

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