In case you’re confused, the Philadelphia 76ers play in the Wells Fargo Center. But you wouldn’t know that by reading official Sixers news releases or listening to CEO Scott O’Neil.
In one of the weirdest passive-aggressive rivalries in sports history, the team refuses to say the words “Wells Fargo Center.”
At a press conference in May, O’Neil did not utter the words “Wells Fargo Center” and instead referenced it as “the arena where we play.” It was kind of awkward.
In a June 9 news release about auditions for the Sixers Phlight Squad, the team said the event would be held “at the Sixers home arena.”
In a June 10 email inviting press to cover an unveiling of the Sixers’ new uniforms, it says (in big bold letters) that the event takes place at “The Center.”
So what gives?
The Sixers sent over a statement from Chief Revenue Officer Chris Heck who said “the particular bank referenced is currently not a sponsor of the Philadelphia 76ers.”
Heck wouldn’t use the words “Wells Fargo” either! At least he’s staying on message.
The Sixers statement did make sure to say the team is happy with the arena itself, which is a good thing considering how many people think the team will be moved to Camden after it builds an $82 million practice facility. After all, the ownership group also owns the New Jersey Devils. But the team has been defiant in saying it will stay in Philly.
“We greatly value each and every one of our current partners and work diligently to enhance and maximize those relationships,” said Heck. “We also continue to enjoy our relationship with Comcast-Spectacor as tenants at a world-class arena.”
A Comcast-Spectacor rep said: “We have a terrific relationship with the Sixers. They’re great tenants.”
Barbara Nate, a Wells Fargo corporate communications rep told me: “We don’t know why the 76ers are not using the venue’s full name in their communications and would defer to their front office to address that with you.”
Nate told me that Wells Fargo previously sponsored the Sixers but doesn’t anymore.
I asked the Sixers if they’re content with how strange it looks to have a CEO who’s unwilling to say the name of the arena where the team plays. That question went unanswered.
Wells Fargo has naming rights to the arena through 2024. Should we expect this ridiculousness to go on until then?