By Ken Mammarella
Special to Delaware Business Times
The Delaware Blue Coats on Wednesday joined local officials for the groundbreaking of the 76ers Fieldhouse on the Wilmington Riverfront. The sports complex and training facility will host the Blue Coats and serve as a venue for amateur sports teams, concerts and graduation ceremonies.
Michael Hare, executive vice president of the Buccini/Pollin Group, called the project “transformative” for its potential to revitalize the east side of the Christina River. The developer projects that 218,156 “amateur users” will visit the four-acre site per year.
The heart of the $25 million development is a 160,000-square-foot building visible from both I-95 and I-495. The sport facilities include a court for the Blue Coats, with 2,366 bleacher seats (convertible to three NBA-regulation basketball courts), and a 100- by 70-yard indoor turf field.
The main tenants include the Blue Coats; youth sports teams; the Titus Sports Academy, a firm moving from Newark to continue athletic training programs and baseball teams; the Future Soccer Stars Foundation, a free program that uses soccer to “inspire kids to believe and invest in themselves”; and the Nemours Physical Therapy Clinic, moving from the hospital’s main campus in North Wilmington to provide rehabilitation and therapy for young athletes.
“You can hear the future being created here,” said Adam Faurot, co-founder of Titus Sports Academy.
The building is projected to open in mid- to late December. Employment is projected at 12-20 full-time staff for BPG Sports, 10-12 for the Blue Coats, and 80-100 part-timers for running the the youth leagues, tournaments, camps, community events, adult leagues and graduations.
The site will have 521 parking spaces. McGlinchey, executive director of the Riverfront Development Corp., boasted easier pedestrian access from the Riverfront’s busier west side due to a foot bridge that opened last year. “It will be a magnet on the East Side,” she said.
Blue Coats tickets will be sold for $9 to $89. “It’s fun, affordable family entertainment,” said Malcom Turner, president of NBA G League, which includes the Blue Coats, an affiliate of the Philadelpia 76ers.
The public-private partnership backed by 17 businesses, teams, nonprofits and governments contributed to the project. Among the state partners, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control cleaned up contamination of the Garasches Lane site, a former landfill, and the Delaware Department of Transportation worked to improve access.
Wilmington Mayor Michael S. Purzycki said he assembled the site from multiple landowners a decade ago, while running the Riverfront Development Corp., and the organization has another four adjacent acres available.