Wells Fargo Center – Philadelphia Flyers
Broad Street Bullies
Philadelphia’s Wells Fargo Center is located far from downtown Philadelphia but one should try and spend some time wandering around the area between the giant stadiums in this area. The Xfinity Live entertainment complex is a nice starting point for fans.
When walking towards the Wells Fargo Center from Xfinity Live, you may happen to come across a statue of singer Kate Smith. Upon seeing the likeness of Ms. Smith, you may ask yourself, “Why is there a statue of a southern radio star whose career peaked in the 1940s, and who passed away 30 years ago, immortalized in bronze at a sports complex in Philadelphia?”
Kate Smith is still considered an icon of Philadelphia sports. She is the most unique good luck charm in all of sports. In 1969 the Philadelphia Flyers looked into replacing The Star Spangled Banner with Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” They tested the Kate Smith recorded version, which sounded very good in testing at the Spectrum arena. Nowadays replacing the national anthem would be unlikely, but in the late 60’s patriotism was at an all-time low. Even so, the playing of Kate Smith’s rendition was a bit controversial. But when the Flyers won, and later lost without the song being played, a new tradition was born. It was believed that the playing of this song was good luck and assured victory.
The 1973-74 and 1974-75 seasons Smith even played the song live, spurring the team onto Stanley Cup victories. Her second time playing the song before a game was before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974 against the Boston Bruins and she did it again on May 13, 1975 before game 7 of the next year’s series versus the New York Islanders. The song is rarely played today, but if you are lucky, the Flyers may still break out a video of her singing the song for good luck before important games. That is how an unlikely sports legend was created. A statue of Smith was placed outside the Spectrum and now sits near the Xfinity Live entertainment complex.
The Philadelphia Flyers began in 1967, playing in the historic Spectrum. Often referred to by the Broad Street Bullies nickname, the franchise has a long history of success, and is known as being a hard edged hockey team with equally hardened fans.
Besides the 1973–74 and 1974–75 seasons the Flyers played for the championship eight total times, most recently in 1997 and 2010. Those successes coupled with their 16 division titles, 35 playoff appearances and over 3500 wins means that this is one of the most successful teams in hockey history. Center Bobby Clarke and Goalie Bernie Parent are just a couple of the famous names to play for the franchise.
This building opened in 1996 as the CoreStates Center, and is home not just to the Flyers but to the 76ers, Soul (Arena Football League), as well as selected Villanova Wildcats basketball games. It is part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex with fellow venues Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park. It is a large arena, holding 19,519 seats, and is a venue for the largest touring concerts and events that come through the area. It is a busy place.
The arena has been going through some drastic remodeling recently, mainly seen in an enhanced concourse.
Food & Beverage 5
The arena is chock full of food options around the entire arena. The best and busiest are usually found on the main concourse level.
There has been some nice additions to the offerings this season. The most publicized is the only Shake Shack to open in an NBA/NHL arena. Shake Shack is on the main concourse behind Section 116, across from the Cure Insurance Club. They are offering a limited menu that includes the ShackBurger, ‘Shroom Burger, Shack Stack, which includes both a cheeseburger and ‘Shroom Burger, fries, hot dogs, milkshakes, and a “Concrete” dessert known as the Brotherly Love Crunch (vanilla custard with malt powder, Valrhona crunchies, and chocolate toffee). Prices are not cheap, but they actually offer one of the best values in the arena as the prices at their regular, non-arena, locations are pretty much at the same level, starting at $7.25 for a single ShackBurger. Expect long lines.
Other new additions to the offerings are pretzels at The Loop and Bacon Shock Tots at PJ Whelihan’s.
Sodas are $5.50 and $7 throughout the facility. And most booths sell nachos ($6.50), popcorn ($5), pizza slices ($4.75) and baked chicken sandwiches ($7). Hot dogs at $6 are found all around the arena, and are way too expensive for what you get.
Campos is a local cheesesteak restaurant in the Philadelphia area. They have a few stands in the Wells Fargo Center and offer a pretty good version of a local cheesesteak for $10. If you did not get one before the game, this is a good choice eating spot during the game.
Chickie’s and Pete’s also has a few locations inside the arena. The staple here is their Crab Fries, which cost $10.50. You must try them at least once. They also offer a pretty good chicken cutlet sandwich, available plain or in buffalo style, for $9.75.
PJ Whelihan’s is a full-sized bar that offers a variety of beer and food choices. Beer is not cheap, starting at $8.25, but at least the selection will make it worth it. Just watch out for the $11 premium can of beer seen throughout the facility.
The Cure Insurance Club is sort of a built-in food court with a bar as well. It is large and offers a good spot for meeting up with friends. Once again, watch for the expensive beer selection. Bands will play this area before games and during intermissions.
A couple other unique options are the vegetarian options of Melissa’s Farm Stand and the loaded mac and cheese at The Sophisticated Pig
Philadelphia fans are usually thought of as one of the most intense fans in the country. They will not disappoint you. They take hockey seriously, especially with their home team. Expect the fans to get even rowdier if playing division rivals like the Rangers, Devils or Capitals.
The games are pretty straightforward without a large amount of gimmicks and other effects to get in the way of the game action. They have ice girls who help keep the ice clear, but are not presented too provocatively.
The Flyers employ their own anthemist, Lauren Hart, who sings the National Anthem and/or God Bless America in a consistent and respectful tone. She may not be Kate Smith, but she is almost as beloved locally. Her father, Gene Hart, was the long-time television and radio announcer for the team.
The concourse area also will have hockey clubs, events and other things to keep the atmosphere at a high level. Once you enter the Wells Fargo Center you are sure to be entertained.
The stadium complex is located some distance from the downtown parts of the city. I would have loved to rate it higher but you will want to venture away from the Wells Fargo Center a little for a good time.
There are still some local options, though. Located closest is the Xfinity Live complex in the same parking lot. It is a quick walk from Xfinity Live back to the Wells Fargo Center. Basically, it is like a food court of bars. Food is also good here and offers a decent variety, although not at the cheapest prices. The star attraction here is the 32-foot screen at the NBC Sports Arena. The Victory Beer Hall is also another fine venue, especially for local brews. There is also a year-round bar called McFadden’s located at Citizens Bank Park across the street. A decent sports bar is also located at the Holiday Inn Stadium, just north of Citizen’s Bank Park. Eventually that hotel will be razed for a new casino complex.
Located just a short bit away is the Chickie’s and Pete’s flagship location on Packard Avenue. This massive sports bar has numerous smaller bars inside, hundreds of screens, video games and some serious food. The Crab Fries also offered in the arena are obviously a star here. Also check out my favorite, the chicken cheesesteak. You can park at Chickie’s and Pete’s for some games and they offer a shuttle bus to the games (“The Taxi Crab”). Just make sure you follow parking rules, as they will be quick to tow you if you don’t.
Some of the best cheesesteaks are located at Philip’s Steaks at 2234 West Passyunk Avenue for traditional Philly cheesesteaks. This is not one of the more touristy spots, but is still in a safe neighborhood and offers free parking. Philip’s also has a surprisingly good cheeseburger for a cheesesteak joint. Just remember you have to buy the drinks and fries at a different window than your main entree, which is a strange and unique Philly tradition.
Center city is a quick Broad Street Line subway ride away. Think about starting or ending your trip at the many great places in this area. South Street is always a great area to start or finish your night.
The fans are intense, as mentioned above. They are a fun crowd but can get rowdy if provoked. A smart sports fan will stay out of trouble. It may not be the most family friendly atmosphere around so please be aware. Just know what to expect going into the game and be forewarned of this.
The sports complex is located right off of I-95, with massive parking lots in the area. Even with big crowds, there should be no problem with access. Parking prices vary by the event and by the lot. It will not be cheap, but it will be convenient, as there are over 6,000 spaces available throughout eight lots at $16 apiece. A pretty good value is a $7 lot on the opposite side of Lincoln Financial Field that an outside vendor runs.
If using public transportation, you will likely find yourself using the only corporate-sponsored subway station that I know of, the AT&T station of the Broad Street Line.
Return on Investment 4
Tickets for the Flyers are hard to get. The Flyers have nearly 18,000 season ticket holders. So they sell a little over a thousand tickets to each game for individuals. So do not walk up to the ticket office last second and expect to get a seat. It just won’t happen.
If you do not want to be a season ticket holder, the secondary market is your best option. Just expect to pay a larger amount for games against conference rivals or when big names are in town. Usually the prices are cheapest about three days before the game and may go up again right before the puck drops.
Food and parking is expensive, but in the average range compared to other similar venues. You do get good value for your money even at those prices.
The Cure Insurance Club, on the main concourse, along with its new neighbor, Shake Shack, is the heart of the arena. It is much more than just a restaurant/bar. it is also a good pre and post-game meeting spot. Bands and entertainment may also be available to keep the atmosphere lively. The bands usually play pre-game as well as during intermissions.
There are many displays around the concourse noting the history of the Flyers and 76ers, as well as other historical sporting events and entertainment events from the past. Spend some time checking in on how the Flyers franchise has fared in the past.
Be sure to look at the banners that adorn the rafters of the arena. Besides ones for the Flyers and 76ers, you will also see banners commemorating the sellout concerts from Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Villanova basketball, which plays here as a part time home, also has banners noting their two national championships.
Wells Fargo Center does many things right. It is large, but still offers a fan friendly view of the action. The enthusiasm of the fans brings a whole other aspect to the game atmosphere. It is overall a great arena for hockey action.
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Latest Crowd Reviews
The City of Brotherly Love did not earn its name because of its sports fans. However, it is hard to criticize them for their passion and love for their sports teams. The Wells Fargo Center provides a wonderful venue to watch some of the most heated and storied rivalries in professional sports.
Wells Fargo Center is an impressive arena. It is large, but has the intimacy of a much smaller venue. With fans that enthusiastically support their team, they also get to experience a venue that has a staff that welcomes and engages all fans.
The Flyers have some of the most dedicated and passionate fans you&#039ll come across south of the border. That can rub some visiting fans the wrong way, but unless you are provoking the hometowners, you won&#039t have any issues. Wells Fargo Arena is a great big arena with excellent sight lines throughout. Its major drawback is its location. While it&#039s great to have all your stadiums in one place, it doesn&#039t leave much room for anything but parking lots. The South Philly neighborhood beyond these lots is nothing to get too excited about, either. With the Flyers starting to pile up losses so far in 17-18, more empty seats are noticeable.