"Wells Fargo" is suddenly the name that shall not be spoken for the Philadelphia 76ers.
The National Basketball Association team no longer refers to its home venue, the Wells Fargo Center, by name in press releases or elsewhere because of a business disagreement with the San Francisco bank, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Instead, the team will refer to the arena now as just "The Center."
None of the parties the 76ers, Wells Fargo nor the owner of the arena would specify exactly what soured the relationship between the team and the bank when all three were contacted by American Banker. It appears that the dispute involved a Wells sponsorship of the team that has ended.
Wells spokesman Jim Baum said that the bank used to be a sponsor of the 76ers in addition to holding the naming rights for the venue, but he declined to say why that sponsor relationship had ended.
"Wells Fargo is proud to support the Philadelphia community through our naming-rights deal for the Wells Fargo Center, which currently runs through 2024," Baum said in an email. "We know how passionate Philadelphia is about its sports teams, and Wells Fargo is committed to remaining a part of the citys sports scene."
The arena is owned by Comcast Spectacor, which is majority-owned by the media company Comcast. The 76ers were once owned by Comcast Spectacor but sold in 2011.
The76ers said little except that Wells is no longer one of its sponsors, and the arena owner said it did not want to comment on matters between the team and the bank.
The former CoreStates Financial originally held the naming rights to the arena, which it obtained in a $40 million agreement in 1994. The building's name changed over the years through a series of bank mergers. Wells Fargo got to place its name on the building in 2010 after it bought Wachovia.