An agreement to move the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team to a new arena in Camden, N.J., is expected to be signed within the next several days, according to officials involved in the negotiations.
The arena, which will reportedly cost about $80 million and seat 18,000, could be financed with tax-exempt bonds, according to a spokesman for Gov. Jim Florio, who is participating in the negotiations with team owner Harold Katz.
New Jersey Gov.-elect Christine Todd Whitman, who takes office next month, has said publicly that she supports a 76ers move to Camden, but would oppose using bonds to build the arena or the use of any taxpayer funds in the venture.
A spokesman for Florio, Jon Shure, said no final agreement on the financing has been reached, but the use of tax-exempt bonds "is an option."
Katz has said he hopes groundbreaking on the new arena, which would be situated across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, could begin in April with the team's first game taking place in the 1996-97 season.
Negotiations for a new 76ers arena in Philadelphia, known as Spectrum II, have been off-and-on for years, but finally broke down late last month when a dispute about luxury box revenues could not be resolved.
Samuel P. Katz, a managing director at Public Financial Management who has been involved in numerous stadium deals around the nation, was a financial adviser to the failed Spectrum II project. He was not available for comment yesterday.
Philadelphia officials said they were disappointed they could not keep the team in the city, but reportedly said the city's precarious fiscal situation made it difficult to compete with what are likely to be generous incentives offered by New Jersey to convince the 76ers to cross the Delaware.