After Public Spat With Wells Fargo, Sixers Finally Ink New Banking Sponsor

So don't expect the team to use the arena's proper name anytime soon.

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Photo | Jeff Fusco

Breakups are hard — especially when they’re public. But in the aftermath of the hilarious and wacky breakup between the Philadelphia 76ers and Wells Fargo, the Sixers have finally found a new banking sponsor in Firstrust Bank.

It all started when Wells Fargo stopped sponsoring the team in the early stages of its tanking era. (The Sixers say Wells Fargo wanted to focus on tennis and golf. The bank declined to comment when I reached out a few months back.)

The Sixers then went into war mode, with executives refusing to say the words “Wells Fargo Center” in public, and the team calling its home court “The Center” in official documentation. Then the team made the words “Wells Fargo Center” very difficult to read on its home court. What used to appear in dark lettering on the floor, was painted white and virtually blended in.

The icing on the cake was when Sixers CEO Scott O’Neill told me back in October that he wanted to write the bank’s name on the court in invisible ink, but the lawyers didn’t go for it. Weirdly, the words miraculously showed up darker on the floor in January, as reported by Crossing Broad.

“It’s probably the first naming-rights partner in the history of a building that didn’t become a marketing partner of a team that played in the building,” O’Neill told me in October, noting that the Sixers won’t “endorse or support someone who’s pulled their support from us.”

I have to say, that seems fair.

But now it’s time to move on. The Sixers have just inked their first banking sponsor since Wells Fargo, and it’s Firstrust Bank. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Sixers hope it’s a lasting partnership.

It’s no secret that the Sixers have the worst record in the NBA and a fan base that seems fine with sleeping through the rest of the season so they can finally see Joel Embid, Dario Saric and whatever top draft picks join the club next season. But Chad Biggs, senior vice president of corporate development and activation for the Sixers, says the team’s poor performance on the court “hasn’t been real hurdle” in finding sponsorships. He also said that the team doesn’t have to give a sponsor a discount while they go through a tough time on the court.

What’s important is tailoring the team’s program to the sponsor’s specific needs. One cool thing they’re doing with Firstrust is giving the bank access to the team’s annual “row one dinner” where coach Brett Brown talks strategy with selected season ticket holders over a nice meal.

“We are providing them access to our most-valued customers,” said Biggs. “This provides Firstrust with access to that group intimate setting.”

Biggs said the team “anticipates that the partnership will grow over time. Firstrust is very enthusiastic about the future with the Sixers. Both sides are really optimistic.”

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