New game in town
76ers new D-League franchise to play at The Bob
Editor's note: Watch clips from the news conference at the Philadelphia 76ers website.
5:04 p.m., April 27, 2013--The Philadelphia 76ers' new NBA D-League franchise, known as the Delaware 87ers or the Sevens, will play its home games at the University of Delaware's Bob Carpenter Center in Newark, Del.
At an April 27 press conference, held at The Bob, the Philadelphia 76ers announced the purchase of the operating rights for a team to compete in the 17-team National Basketball Association Development League, the NBA’s only minor league. The operating rights were previously held by the Utah Flash, a team that went on hiatus two seasons ago.
New Vita Nova
The Sevens will relocate to Delaware and begin play this coming autumn for the 2013-14 NBA D-League season, which runs from November through April.
"Everyone at UD is excited to welcome the Delaware Sevens to Newark," said UD President Patrick Harker. "Having the Sevens play in the Bob Carpenter Center gives us a great opportunity to showcase the UD campus, and it gives our neighbors a fun, exciting activity they can share with their families. I know the players want to be an engaged presence in the local community, and I look forward to seeing them around town."
Delaware Gov. Jack Markell said, “The team name gives a great nod to our First State and brings with it lots of good luck, I assure you. We welcome the team to Delaware where many fans await the next season ahead. We promise a hometown spirit of support as the Sevens build a new basketball legacy for Delaware, for the region and for the sport. There will be some great games to watch here.”
Josh Harris, Sixers managing owner, called the creation of the Delaware 87ers "an important milestone in our quest to ensure that the Philadelphia 76ers are viewed in all respects to be a world-class and cutting-edge NBA franchise." He said, "We are particularly excited that we can situate the team in the welcoming, nearby state of Delaware, especially since there are so many Delawareans who already are avid 76ers fans.”
Harris said the new team would strengthen the Sixers' player development and team initiatives and also serve as a "tremendous asset" to the entire organization.
The team name “87ers” was selected in recognition of Delaware’s place in United States history, as the first state to ratify the U.S. Constitution on Dec. 7, 1787. The 87ers name also is immediately evocative of the parent 76ers, a name similarly derived from Philadelphia’s place in U.S. history with the Declaration of Independence being signed there in 1776. The 87ers team will also be nicknamed the Sevens, a nod to the way the parent club’s official name is often shortened to the Sixers.
While all 30 NBA teams have an affiliate status with an NBA D-League team, the 76ers become just the sixth NBA team with 100 percent direct ownership of its NBA D-League affiliate, joining the San Antonio Spurs (Austin Toros), Los Angeles Lakers (L.A. D-Fenders), Oklahoma City Thunder (Tulsa 66ers), Golden State Warriors (Santa Cruz Warriors) and Cleveland Cavaliers (Canton Charge).
“We’re thrilled to work with the 76ers to bring NBA D-League basketball to Newark and the state of Delaware,” said Dan Reed, NBA D-League president. “Having a record 12th NBA team invest in their own NBA D-League team shows our development system for top NBA prospects is working and highlights the league's continued growth. We're very excited to share our world-class brand of basketball, affordable family-friendly entertainment, and community engagement with all Delawareans."
Adam Aron, CEO and co-owner of the 76ers, praised the role Delawareans played in making the announcement possible: “I want to thank the entire political leadership of Delaware, and especially the executives and staff of the University of Delaware, for their warm embrace of support and for the key roles that they all played in making it possible for us to bring the Sevens to Delaware. We look forward to engaging with the countless basketball fans throughout the state, as both individual fans and businesses across Delaware share with us the energy, joy and family fun that this new 87ers team will create.”
“The Sixers have recognized what we in Delaware have known for a long time – the First State has great sports fans,” said U.S. Sen. Tom Carper. “I look forward to catching some Sevens games at the Bob next season!”
"Sixers games have long been a great source of fun for so many Delaware families, including mine, so this really is exciting news,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Coons. “Delaware loves the Sixers and will undoubtedly love the Sevens. This news is a sign of the 76ers' appreciation for their Delaware fans and of their commitment to this community. I look forward to bringing my kids to Sevens games this fall, and to further strengthening the ties between our state and this historic franchise."
“As a lifelong Sixers fan, I’m thrilled to welcome the Sevens to our state,” said U.S. Rep. John Carney of Delaware. “Delaware families can now enjoy watching professional basketball in our own backyard. This partnership is good news for Delaware, good news for the Sixers and good news for those of us who take pride in rooting for our hometown teams.”
The team website, Sevens.com, is live. Fans can call 302-504-7587 for tickets or 302-504-7387 for general information.
Photos by Lane McLaughlin