HBSE Commits to Fight Systemic Racism and Champion Equality

The Devils put out a press release this morning that mentions that Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE) will be helping to fight systemic racism and champion equality by committing $20 million towards the cause.

The company, which owns the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers in addition to the Devils, will be “pledging $10 million over the next five years to drive action and invest in the cities where [their] teams live, work, play and perform.”

Of the $20 million total committed dollars, $10 million will be a contribution from the Sixers “to the NBA’s newly-announced foundation to drive economic empowerment in Black communities.”

Josh Harris, HBSE Founder said: “As leaders and stewards of community pillars, the eyes of the world are on us to do better, and they should be. While we will never be able to correct the past harm and injustice faced by Black Americans, it’s our duty to provide resources that enable tangible action and greater opportunities for equality. We are committing to a fundamental change in our business strategy by embedding our organization with Black communities and businesses through significant and sustained investment and support. We are deeply committed to fighting for a better, more inclusive future and we pledge to be leaders in doing so.”

David Blitzer, HBSE Co-Founder added, “It is crucial for us to take action in fighting against systemic racism and social injustices, which have persisted for far too long. Moving forward, we are making a continued commitment to racial equality as a key focus of our business, advancing institutional and situational change where we live, work, and play. We cannot and will not tolerate racism, injustice or hate, and take responsibility to be a part of the solution for the future of our industry, the cities we serve, and our country as a whole.”

There are key ways that HBSE will be trying to enact this change. Firstly, they will be investing in Black communities, by trying to revitalize the neighborhoods where their teams, as well as fans of those teams, are located. They will be doing this “through partnerships with Black developers, local community groups and officials.”

Secondly, they will use their HBSE Real Estate Community Advancement Program to “advance equitable, community-driven revitalization through significant investments” which include, among other things, a minimum donation of $2.5 million “to organizations and efforts that improve resident quality of life and further equitable development in Black communities (e.g., employment programs, home-buying assistance for long-time residents, public space improvements, youth programming).”

There will also be “consistent capital commitments into real estate projects that advance community priorities in Black neighborhoods, such as affordable housing, health centers, commercial corridor improvements, among others.”

Thirdly, they will be “supporting Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs.” HBSE will keep to their entrepreneurial spirit by implementing “new initiatives to support Black-owned businesses with competitive opportunities and marketing resources.”

Through NBSE’s new Buy Black Partnership Program, the Sixers and Devils “will contribute more than $5 million in marketing assets to Black-owned businesses.”

Next, through their new Diversity Procurement Program, HBSE will “increase expenditure with Black-owned businesses.” This includes a partnership with organizations like the African American Chamber of Commerce of Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

HBSE will also be promoting education, health and employment by committing $2.5 million through the Sixers Youth Foundation and Devils Care Foundation to continuing to use their Corporate Responsibility “to support positive education, health, and employment outcomes in Black communities. This commitment builds upon efforts made by HBSE to promote racial equality in Newark, Camden, and Philadelphia.” The Sixers have a practice facility in Camden, New Jersey.

The 76ers will “pledge to provide free internet access to more than 1,000 School District of Philadelphia families.”

As for the Devils, recent donations were made to the Newark Boys & Girls Club and the Urban League of Essex County. These were inspired by PK Subban’s donation of $50,000 to the GoFundMe campaign to help Gionna Floyd, six-year-old daughter of the murdered George Floyd. The NHL matched the donation made by Subban.

HBSE will also be amplifying a workplace of respect, inclusion and diversity. They will be supporting “Black and minority executives entering and ascending in the sports and entertainment industry and fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace through recruitment, dynamic partnerships, and programs that provide support and enrichment opportunities for all employees and athletes.”

This end, HBSE will be hiring “a Chief Diversity and Impact Officer to lead internal and external diversity and inclusion programs and initiatives across the organization.” They will also “strengthen HBSE’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board and new Black Employee Resource Group with support groups, workshops and a speaker series to foster continued race-based education, empathy, and mindfulness within our organizational culture.”

They will also “focus on new recruitment, retention and career advancement programs to increase the representation of Black and minority employees across HBSE.”

Additionally, the organization will “partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to connect graduating college seniors with career pipelines and exposure at HBSE.”

In my opinion, this is great news and helps show that the Devils and Sixers’ ownership group is trying to be proactive in helping to make change throughout their cities and business through both monetary donations as well as education and hiring practices.

Devils Owners Form HBSE

The Devils news is coming fast and furious. As the team gets ready for two split squad preseason games tonight in Brooklyn against the Islanders and in Prince Edward Island against the Ottawa Senators, the team’s owners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, announced the formation of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment (HBSE).

In addition to the Devils, the press release on the Devils’ site says that the new company will include their other sports holdings, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Delaware 87ers (the Sixers’ NBA G-League development team), the Binghamton Devils, the Sixers Innovation Lab Crafted by Kimball and esports franchise Team Dignitas. In addition, the portfolio will also include Prudential Center and the GRAMMY Museum Experience Prudential Center.

The press release states that “HBSE creates a vehicle for Harris and Blitzer to accelerate growth of their holdings through focused resources across their properties, while intensifying exploration of strategic investment opportunities.” They tout that they will be able to impact “the local communities in which” they operate. Hugh Weber echoed that sentiment when he said “we’re looking forward to solidifying a model of growth in our businesses that produces leaders and innovators in sports and entertainment and leaves a meaningful legacy in the communities we serve.”

Scott O’Neil has been named CEO while Weber will be President. Brad Shron was promoted to General Counsel of HBSE. Also, as far as the Devils are concerned, Adam Davis (Chief Revenue Officer of Prudential Center and the Devils) “will expand his role to run the partnership business for all HBSE properties.”

A lot of the press release is corporate speak which, quite frankly, is over my head. But what I am getting out of this is that the ownership is committed to continue working to make the experience of going to a Devils game at Prudential Center better and better and will be looking to expand their business and put money back into ventures like the Devils and the 76ers to improve the product that we, as fans, watch. Hopefully I am right in that assessment.