SBJ/March 7-13, 2011/Facilities

Favored Flyers? Snider, Luukko both say no

Snider: "I think people say that because I created the Flyers and it's like my baby."
Ed Snider and Peter Luukko are aware of the perception in Philadelphia that they favor the Flyers over the 76ers.

Snider owns both teams and Luukko is president of the Flyers and oversees the Sixers. The Flyers’ recent success on and off the ice and the Sixers’ struggles to win games before half-capacity crowds at Wells Fargo Center perpetuate the notion that they are hockey guys.

But it’s simply not true, according to Snider.

“I care about both teams,” Snider said. “I think people say that because I created the Flyers and it’s like my baby. That doesn’t mean I don’t the want the Sixers to win just as much as I want the Flyers to win. It just means everyone associates me with hockey. It’s understandable when people say it, but they don’t really know. I know, they don’t know.”

On top of that, hockey is Luukko’s favorite sport and he plays early morning pickup games on the Wells Fargo Center ice with employees and Flyers sponsors. Plus, his teenage son Nick was drafted by the Flyers in 2010, plays junior hockey in Iowa and earned a scholarship to play at the college level this fall at Vermont.

“Listen, Ed gave birth to the Flyers and mortgaged his house to get the franchise, so it has to have a special place for him,” Luukko said. “Frankly, I spend more time with [the Sixers] when things aren’t as good as they are right now.”

Things are getting better for the Sixers under new team President Rod Thorn, and Snider has done his part to get fans in the arena. This season, the club has given away 48,000 free upper-deck tickets to local schools, the same thing the Flyers did early in their existence, said Lara Price, the Sixers’ senior vice president of business operations.

Don’t tell Rich Krezwick that Snider doesn’t care about the Sixers. Krezwick, now president of Devils Arena Entertainment in Newark, used to host Snider and Luukko for Sixers-Celtics games when Krezwick operated the Boston arena.

“They sat 10th-row center, reacting passionately in front of 19,000 Celtics fans,” Krezwick said. “That takes courage.

“It’s the old cliché: Do you have a favorite child? No, you love each one differently.”

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