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Official Review by Richard Smith, Stadium Journey Regional Correspondent
The Philadelphia Soul started in 2004, originally owned in part by rocker Jon Bon Jovi. In 2008, the team won the Arena Football League (AFL) championship, known as the ArenaBowl. The AFL then shut down entirely in 2009. Although the league was revived for the 2010 season, it was not until 2011 when an ownership group that included former Eagles QB and ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski brought the Soul back. Since coming back they have played for the championship in 2012 and 2013, although unsuccessfully.
The Wells Fargo Center is home to the 76ers, Flyers and occasional Villanova basketball games, besides the Soul games. The other resident team is the National Lacrosse League’s Philadelphia Wings. Between all the sports teams, concerts and special events, it is one busy place. Couple that with the events from nearby Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field, and there will always be some event happening around the South Philadelphia Sports Complex.
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Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The Wells Fargo Center offers a large variety of food options, albeit not amazingly cheap. Only the main concourse level is open for Soul games, but the variety is not impaired. This variety is what wins here, in spite of the price level. Sodas are $5.25 and $7 throughout the facility. Nacho Grande is a decent value at $7 with some other options including popcorn ($6.50), caramel popcorn ($7), pretzels ($5.75) and baked chicken sandwiches ($7).
Hot dogs at $5 are the most common choice throughout the arena. Pizza from Lorenzo & Sons seems overpriced, with single slices for $7.50, but it does seem to be a popular choice among fans. Beer is not cheap throughout the venue, starting at $8.25. Definitely watch out for the $11 premium can beer.
Local sports bar Chickie's and Pete's has a location 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 for $9.75.
PJ Whelihan's offers a full-sized bar environment with a variety of beer and food choices. Their Cheddar Beef Sandwich is a fair value at $9.50. A separate room for smokers is also provided at PJ Whelihan's.
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. One of the options inside here is a local vendor, Campos. They have a pretty good version of a local cheesesteak for $10.50. If you did not get one before the game, this is a good eating spot during the game.
A very popular dessert option is Gozen Yogurt, a self-serve yogurt bar.
Only the lower bowl is used for Soul games, so it seems a bit cavernous when you look up and see the empty upper section. But the crowd fills in nicely, although not necessarily at kickoff, and makes for a pretty loud experience.
The Soul offer many ways to engage the crowd and get them into the game. Their mascot, Soul Man, cheerleading squad The Soulmates and promotional squad The Soul Squad uses every downtime to engage the crowd by offering promotions and doing entertaining stunts. The Soulmates also spend much time in the stands entertaining the crowd.
The ceiling is filled with banners for the 76ers and Flyers, as well as the Soul. If you squint you can see the rolled-up banners from the Philadelphia Wings. Conversely, the Soul banners are rolled up during Wings games. That does not make sense, but is interesting nonetheless.
The South Philadelphia Sports Complex is located some distance from the city. The ratings have to be lower, because you will likely need to venture away from the Wells Fargo Center for some local experiences.
Even if you do not want to travel far, you are in luck, because the Xfinity Live entertainment complex is located right in the parking lot. This is a food court of bars and restaurants. 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, Broad Street Bullies Pub and PBR Bar & Grill are some of the other options inside of here, with Spectrum Grill offering a little bit more upscale of a menu. It is a quick walk from Xfinity Live back to the Wells Fargo Center.
McFadden's is a sports pub attached to Citizens Bank Park, located across the street. Also relatively close is the Stadium Sports Bar Restaurant in the Holiday Inn at 900 Packer Avenue. Neither are outstanding options, but they are somewhat close. The Holiday Inn is a great lodging choice because of its proximity, although you may also want consider staying at the airport only a few miles away, where lodging choices are even cheaper. Staying downtown is always fun, but prices will not be cheap, with even more expensive parking prices to go along with the lodging prices.
Chickie's and Pete's flagship location is also located somewhat close at 1526 Packer Avenue. The Crab Fries are always the star here, but they also offer a large variety of food and drink choices. It can be pretty busy on game days, so plan accordingly. Also, you can park here 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 in South Philadelphia. Pat and Geno's are famous but are way too touristy, although they still can offer a good tasting cheesesteak. A better option is Tony Luke's on Oregon Avenue underneath I-95. Tony Luke's offers more menu options with much better flavor. They are located further away from the Wells Fargo Center so you will need a car. It makes for a great pre-game stop. If you feel that Tony Luke's is even too touristy, and you may be right, another option is Philip's Steaks at 2234 West Passyunk Avenue. Phillip's also makes a mean cheeseburger.
The rest of Philadelphia is available to you a short ride away on the Broad Street subway line. The options in this city are numerous, although Continental Restaurant and Martini Bar at 138 Market Street in the Old City neighborhood is a good choice. And for late-night dining, Little Pete's at 219 S 17th Street in the Rittenhouse Square area offers classic diner service 24 hours a day.
Fans are pretty nice, although with it being Philadelphia you will always have some louder, more aggressive people in attendance. Generally, the games offer a family atmosphere, with many kids in attendance.
The fans were generally late to the start of the game when we visited. We would have to go back more often to see if that is a regular occurrence or just a one-time thing. Eagles games do not suffer from this issue, and have the same fan base, so we will chalk it up as just a one-time thing.
The entire South Philadelphia Sports Complex is located right off the Broad Street exit of I-95. Access on and off is extremely easy for Wells Fargo Center events. Access to downtown, either by Broad Street or via Christopher Columbus Boulevard is seldom problematic with wide streets and good traffic flow. If an event is also happening at one of the other nearby venues you will need to use some caution and have extra patience.
There are many parking lots available, but they will be costly at $16 apiece. A pretty good value is a $7 lot on the opposite side of Lincoln Financial Field that an outside vendor runs.
You also have easy access to the Broad Street Line of the subway located at AT&T Station, located directly in the parking lot. You may want to prepay your return fare, as the station will be very busy after the game.
Prices start at a very fair $13 and can go up to $40 for a normal ticket. The main problem is the exorbitant $8 fee tacked on even when purchasing in person at the box office. That is a bit silly. You can also pay a bit more for 3rd and 4th-row tickets ($75), 2nd-row tickets ($100) and 1st-row tickets ($200). Those would be fun, but watch out for that 250-pound football player who may land in your lap.
Tickets can also be found on the secondary market and could be a good option. There just may not be as many available as at Flyers and 76ers games, because of less demand. There are also many less ticket scalpers in the area, for similar reasons.
If you are a fan of the 76ers or Flyers, spend some time at the large souvenir stand offering merchandise from both teams. Soul merchandise is available, as well, and is worn by many fans.
The 76ers and Flyers also have a large amount of history on display throughout the main concourse. A favorite is the Flyers hat trick case, where the celebratory hats are displayed.
Check out the ceiling banners for the Philadelphia sellouts of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Fans of each will love a picture of those.
Wells Fargo Center is an impressive arena. It is large, but never seems as large as it is. It is also loud and offers a pretty intimidating place to play. That seems to be a perfect place for a Philadelphia-based team to play.
Member Review by gtcrawley
Wells Fargo Center is the home of the Philadelphia Soul, Flyers and 76ers. Built near the ruins of the Spectrum, it is part of the massive Philadelphia Sports Complex, which includes Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL's Eagles, and Citizens Bank Park, home of the 2008 World Champion Phillies.
The first of the three to be built, the Wells Fargo Center is all glitz and glamour, and is totally a fun place, but it lacks the Spectrum's soul. (See what I did there?)
1526 Packer Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19145
900 Packer Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19148
1 Citizens Bank Way
Philadelphia, PA 19148
3101 S 13th St
Philadelphia, PA 19148
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2628 South St
Philadelphia, PA 19146