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On the Waterfront: 76ers plan New Jersey practice facility

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The Philadelphia 76ers plan to build a practice facility in New Jersey, a 100,000-square foot complex they expect to become the jewel of the NBA.

The Sixers filed for tax credits on Friday to start the process of putting their operation under one roof. The team hoped to break ground in October and planned to move in some time in 2016. The site will be on the Camden, New Jersey, waterfront on a plot of land between the Camden Aquarium and the Susquehanna Bank Center.

"As part of our due diligence related to a new Training Center, we have officially filed an application for a site along the New Jersey waterfront in Camden," Sixers CEO Scott O'Neil said. "We understand the New Jersey Economic Development Authority will be voting on an incentive for a possible facility on the waterfront at their upcoming meeting. We will have more to say on this matter after the EDA vote."

The Sixers have rented practice space in the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine since 1999.

They will join the Flyers as Philadelphia teams that practice in New Jersey. The Flyers train in Voorhees, New Jersey.

The Sixers front office is based at the Navy Yard, just a few miles away from the Philadelphia sports complex that's home to the four major professional teams.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said the city and Comcast-Spectacor made "very competitive offers" to get the team to build in Philadelphia, but that New Jersey was "literally throwing money at the 76ers."

"Sometimes that might be a little tough to turn down," he said. "If you have tens of millions of dollars that are being thrown at you just to entice you to do something, that's a business decision that someone has to make."

Nutter said Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Flyers and the Wells Fargo Center, had identified land near the Wells Fargo Center as a possible site, while city officials had shown the team at least half a dozen places over the past two years of negotiations.

City officials made "particularly aggressive" proposals for two locations, the mayor said. A potential lot at the Navy Yard — not far from the arena — was a spot the team "appeared to like a great deal," he said.

Nutter declined to specify what types of incentives the city offered, though he noted the Navy Yard site could provide tax breaks through the state's Keystone Opportunity Zone program. There are also "very favourable financing mechanisms" available, he said.

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Associated Press writer Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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