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Wells Fargo Center (map it)
3601 S Broad St
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Year Opened: 1996
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While they may not have as much hardware as the Boston Celtics, as many celebrity fans as the New York Knicks, or a brand-new image like the Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers, often referred to as the Sixers, have been a staple of the National Basketball Association ever since joining the league. Originally the Syracuse Nationals, the team was part of the expansion movement that grew the newly- renamed National Basketball Association from 12 teams to 17 teams in 1946. The Nationals won the Eastern Conference three times and the NBA Championship once (1954-1955) before moving to Philadelphia in 1963 and becoming the 76ers, a nod to the Declaration of Independence, which was signed in Philadelphia in 1776. This brought basketball back to Philadelphia after a one-year absence upon the Philadelphia Warriors leaving for San Francisco in 1962.
Since moving to Philadelphia, the 76ers have won the Eastern Conference six additional times and won the NBA title twice (1966-1967 and 1982-1983). Their success and longevity have established them with the third-highest victory total and the third-most playoff appearances in NBA history. The three NBA championships that the franchise has earned place them tied for fifth-most behind the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and Spurs. Many of the best players that have played in the NBA have played for the Nationals / 76ers including Hal Greer (1958-1973), Wilt Chamberlain (1965-1968), Julius Erving (1976-1987), Charles Barkley (1984-1992) and Allen Iverson (1996-2006, 2009-2010), among many others.
After spending just under thirty years at The Spectrum from 1967 to 1996, the Sixers moved to the newly-constructed CoreStates Center, which opened on August 12, 1996. Due to naming rights the venue changed its name to the First Union Center in 1998, the Wachovia Center in 2003 and finally the Wells Fargo Center in July 2010. The center seats 20,318, which makes it the fourth-largest in the NBA, and is also the full-time home venue for the Philadelphia Flyers (NHL), Philadelphia Wings (NLL), and Philadelphia Soul (AFL). It is also the main entertainment venue in the city and has hosted several non-sporting events, such as big-name concerts and the 2000 Republican National Convention. As part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, the center is just across the street from Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park. All in all the Wells Fargo Center is a sound place for the Sixers to play with a good atmosphere and great food though there is something lost by allowing so many other teams and events to be at the center as well.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The better question is asking what food the Wells Fargo Center doesn't have. There is a Seasons Pizza, Boardwalk Fries, Campo's, Jack & Jill, Chickie and Pete's, Fan Favorites, Grille Works...and that's just on the main concourse level. There's also a mezzanine level (the upper deck with all the Section 200 seats) where the food choices are just as plentiful. To get a sense of the prices, I went to a few different food stands. Campo's has a signature hoagie ($10), assorted candy ($3.50), nacho grande ($6.50 with cheese and salsa), peanuts ($4.25), super pretzels ($4.50), regular sodas and jumbo sodas ($5 and $6.50 respectively) and premium and Coors Light drafts ($8.75 and $8 respectively). We will speak more on the atmosphere later, but I did not get the sense that beer at Wells Fargo Center was as much of a hit with the Sixers fans as beer at Lincoln Financial Field is for Eagles fans.
Fan Favorites offers nachos ($6.50), popcorn ($5), all-beef hot dogs ($5), baked chicken sandwiches ($6.50), chocolate-dipped cone ice cream ($5.50), cookies ($4) and an assortment of beer (12-ounce premium cans for $7.75, 24-ounce premium cans for $13), soda, Aquafina water ($4) and Tim Horton's coffee ($2.50). Seasons Pizza has slices of plain and pepperoni ($4.75), chicken parm sandwiches ($6.50) and Jack and Jill ice cream ($4). The obvious favorite throughout the night I visited, though, was Chickie's & Pete's. Crab fries ($10.25), chicken and buffalo cutlets ($9.75), cutlet American sandwiches ($9.75) and buffalo cutlet sandwiches ($9.75) make up just some of the selection, and all of the items are an absolute hit. Chickie's and Pete's can only be found in Pennsylvania, mostly in Philadelphia, and it is definitely a state favorite. All concession stands accept credit cards and Pepsi is the beverage of choice.
The Wells Fargo Center also has two sit-in food options available for all ticket holders. The Cure Insurance Club located on the 11th Street side features great food and a place to hang out before, during or after the game. PJ Whelihan's Pub on the outside section (106/107) of the center bills itself as having a fun atmosphere, and serves food and a wide variety of pub beer. Wells Fargo Center is a venue with a wide variety of concession stands, many of them local businesses, and two restaurants specifically made for hanging out on the day of the game. If you come hungry to the Wells Fargo Center, you'll leave happy.
My own food experience was a bit disappointing, as the Fan Favorites outside Section 221A was actually out of cheesesteaks by the end of halftime. How a place in Philadelphia runs out of cheesesteaks is beyond me, but the chicken cutlets and fries that I got instead were still very good, and the condiment selection included Old Bay Seasoning.
Wherever you are sitting in the Wells Fargo Center, the first thing you may notice is the great balance that the venue has. There's the intimacy of a small venue combined with the feeling, noise-level and look of a huge stadium. You will be connected to the game and the experience wherever your seat may be. A huge scoreboard hovers over the center court which has two video boards per side and four smaller corner screens. The top video board includes the score, time left, quarter, team fouls and timeouts remaining for each team. The bottom video board is a bit larger, and it shows a live feed of the game, as well as any great Sixers replays. The smaller corner video boards show the point, rebound and foul totals for each player on the floor, along with team stats like field goal percentage, rebounds and assists. There are also smaller scoreboard screens behind each baseline that give the basics, as well as NBA scores from around the league.
As the beginning of the game got closer, the lights went out and a long 76ers pump-up video was shown to get the crowd rowdy. The 2012-2013 season is the Sixers' fiftieth since moving to Philadelphia, so there was definitely an extra sense of pride in the history and tradition of the team that was broadcast in the video. Banners that hang from the rafters also contribute to the sense of tradition that comes with the 76ers franchise, as the retired numbers of greats like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving, Bobby Jones and Charles Barkley hang alongside the banner commemorating their most recent NBA Championship from the 1982-1983 season. There are also many Philadelphia Flyers banners hanging together to help remember their greats like Bernie Parent and Bill Barber and recognize the two Stanley Cup Championships that the hockey team from Philadelphia has won (1973-1974 and 1974-1975).
After the visiting team's starting lineup is unceremoniously read, the Sixers' lineup gets all the works, with each player coming out of the tunnel along with lights and fire. Yes, fire. A ball of flame shoots out from a big torch stand behind the left baseline and really adds a spark to the crowd enthusiasm as their home-team starters run onto the court. After a live singing that is accompanied with a pre-recorded performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by the Philadelphia Orchestra, the game begins, but the entertainment really never stops.
The Sixers have a Dream Team, Flight Squad and a fan crew. The Dream Team consists of the cheerleaders who perform on center court about two or three times throughout the game. The Flight Squad perform twice, and they are a group of acrobatic dunkers who use trampolines and amazing athleticism to put on great slam dunk shows that get the crowd on their feet. The fan crew operates many of the intermission games, such as the kids' dunk contest and the very popular t-shirt toss. They also make their way around the center to sing happy birthday to different fans who are celebrating at the game. The key word in terms of atmosphere when it comes to a 76ers game, or any NBA game really, is entertainment. With trivia, Kiss Cam, MC Hammer Cam and the very popular Gangnam Style Cam, it's obvious that even with a capacity of over 20,000 fans, the Sixers really try to keep the crowd into the game and the experience entertaining both during the game and throughout the dead ball intermissions. The crowd responded well on the day I visited and really added to the atmosphere. The actual seats are a bit tight due to the armrests, but there is plenty of legroom available. There are cupholders mounted on the back of the seat in front of you. A lot of current hip-hop is played before the game, keeping the mood upbeat. The PA announcer is enthusiastic and very thorough.
There are many different displays around the stadium concourse, such as a 'Remember the Spectrum' wall, along with different Sixers, Flyers, Wings and Soul items available for viewing. There are also many advertisements for the upcoming entertainment events hosted by the facility on some televisions around the concourse. The one disappointing aspect of the Wells Fargo Center is that, unlike places such as Lambeau Field, Camden Yards, Allen Fieldhouse and Bryant-Denny Stadium that exclusively serve one team, much of the character unique to the Sixers is lost due to the multiple purposes the arena serves.
If you're trying to get a full sense of the city of Philadelphia from a few different perspectives, check out the Citizens Bank Park and Lincoln Financial Field reviews. Both facilities are about a block away from the Wells Fargo Center as part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. The hot spot, as previously mentioned, is Chickie's and Pete's, and there is a location very close to the center at 1526 Packer Avenue. Geno's Steaks on Ninth Street, Tony Luke's on E Oregon Avenue and Pat's King of Steaks on E Passyunk Avenue are three great places to go grab a Philly cheesesteak either before or after the Sixers game. Despite going to a night game I never worried about my safety when I walked back to my car after the game. Philadelphia may have some mean streets, but they are certainly not close to the sports complex.
I can also promise that a day in Philadelphia can be wildly entertaining even without a basketball game. Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Philadelphia Zoo, Philadelphia Museum of Art, LOVE Park, Mutter Museum and Please Touch Museum are just a few of the available entertainment choices to kill time in the fifth-largest city in the US. VisitPhilly.com is very helpful when searching for the different attractions and things to do in the city. A car is obviously necessary to get to most of the places, but if you haven't been, it's well worth it. If you have any interest in the history of the United States, Philadelphia is arguably the mecca.
Philadelphia fans have a reputation among fans in other cities. With that said, nothing about the 76ers fans bothered me at all during my trip. The fans were passionate and many of them wore jerseys of both past and present players. The tricky part is that the game I attended was 'Kids' Day' at Wells Fargo Center. There were activities before the game like face paint, balloon artists and a 'Create Your Own Sixer Sign' coloring station. It is likely that there are not as many kids normally in attendance as what I saw on Kids' Day. Still, I got the sense while at the game that the Sixers really do strive to make the games very family and kid-friendly.
I spent the first half of the game around Section 103 and the second half of the game around Section 221 on the upper deck, where I met up with fellow Stadium Journey correspondent Gary Herman. The fans, both old and young, were very loud in both sections. The Sixers' motto for the 2012 season was 'Passionate. Intense. Proud.' That is a very good description of the Sixers faithful.
76ers fans are very friendly and not afraid to talk to strangers. Several fans sitting around me started brief conversations with me discussing different topics like the NFL Playoffs, the current state of the 76ers, and the Fan Cam. It makes sense -- when you're seated at a game, you're going to be around the same people for the next two or three hours, why not start some small talk? It's like talking to a stranger when you're on a flight. On the flight, you share a common destination. At a Sixers game, you share a common love for the Sixers, or at least basketball. There's no celebrity presence at a 76ers game like Spike Lee, Jack Nicholson or Jay-Z. Still, the Philadelphia fans at the Wells Fargo Center are very passionate and always know when to cheer. When a Philadelphia player connected for a huge slam dunk near the end of the game that helped seal a Sixers win, the crowd went absolutely nuts. The game I attended wasn't a sellout (the crowd was announced at 85% capacity) but it certainly sounded like a packed house.
I came to the Wells Fargo Center from near Baltimore, which was about a two-hour drive. A majority of the journey is on I-95 going north, which takes you through the tip of Delaware and into Pennsylvania. In a matter of about a month, I went to an Eagles game on a Sunday afternoon and this Sixers game on a Saturday night. The Sixers trip turned out to be so much easier, for obvious reasons. As I said in the Eagles review, a trip to Lincoln Financial Field is simple up until the bridge across Schuylkill River, at which point traffic in the right lane, where you need to be to exit towards Pattison Avenue, comes to a standstill. This will happen with 60,000-plus people trying to go to one place at the same time. Since it is just above 20,000 for a Sixers sellout, traffic is normal going to a 76ers game and not an issue at all. This seems obvious, but is worth noting because it made the trip to the center a lot easier than the trip to Lincoln Financial. Public transportation is available with the SEPTA Broad Street subway line that can drop you off just a few blocks from Wells Fargo Center.
Because the Wells Fargo Center is part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex, there are more than plenty of places to park that are close to the stadium. According to the 76ers website, 6,100 parking spaces are available on the same site as the center across eight different parking lots. All event parking for Sixers games is $15, a very modest amount when you consider what you may have to pay for other sporting events around the area. The box office is located on the Broad Street side of the center and there are three ATMs around the stadium, located in the Cure Insurance Club, section 103 and section 219. Guest Services locations are by sections 101 and 214, and smoking is not allowed inside the building, only outside the building near sections 104, 110 and the Cure Insurance Club. There is a Fan Zone Store near section 112 that sells all different kinds of Philadelphia sports gear as well as a 47 Brand Store near Section 123. Prices are what you would expect from a sports venue ($30 jersey shirts, $40 youth jerseys, $15 t-shirts, $20-$25 hats, $70 jerseys). Restrooms are adequate and certainly serve the intended purpose.
There is no set ticket price for a Sixers game; what you pay depends on who is coming to town. There are regular games, select games and choice games. Regular games are self-explanatory and are for the league's lesser teams. Select games are for more popular teams like San Antonio, Brooklyn and Houston. Choice games are the highlights of the schedule, when the Sixers play teams like Miami, New York and Boston. The cheapest seats are the back rows of 217A-221 and 205A-209. These are the seats furthest back and positioned behind each baseline, and are $10 every game. The prices obviously rise from there. The most expensive seats in the upper deck are the front rows (the Mezzanine Center rows 1-7), which are $45 for regular games, $50 for select and $55 for choice. The cheapest seats on the lower level will put you in the section behind one of the baskets. These seats are $29 for regular games, $39 for select and $49 for choice. If you want to sit at center court, you will pay at least $169, which rises to $189 if teams like the Lakers or Thunder are in town. Again, I spent half the game in Section 103 (Center Court Right Row) and half the game with fellow stadium enthusiast Gary Herman in Section 221A (Mezzanine Corner Row). Both seats gave me great views and surrounded me with good fans. Because of cost I saw a lot more families and smaller kids in the upper section than the lower bowl.
In an age where more and more fans are choosing to follow the games on DirecTV, online gamecasts or NBA League Pass, there is great value in actually coming out to the Wells Fargo Center. If you want to focus on the game of basketball, go see a college game. If you want to be entertained at a basketball game, go to an NBA game. The Sixers do take care of their fans, which explains why so many decide to bring their families and kids. A game will definitely hit your wallet ($15 parking, $10-$15 for food, cheapest upper seats being around $10- $20) but it is a fun overall experience. This is especially the case if you haven't been to a game in years, as was true in my case, or bring kids.
The first extra point goes to Gangnam Style Fan Cam, which happened during one of the intermissions. Everyone else might be over Psy's "Gangnam Style" song, but there wasn't a funnier moment than seeing Sixers fans -- especially the older ones -- getting on camera and being displayed in front of nearly 20,000 peers while they did a horse dance.
A second extra point goes to the staff that worked at the center during the game I visited. All the ushers and workers were polite and helpful, keeping everything running smoothly and answering any questions fans had.
A third extra point goes to the fact that the Wells Fargo Center is where I was able to meet up with Gary Herman, a wonderful Stadium Journey special correspondent who is one of the most sports travel-savvy people I have ever met. I recommend taking a look at his blog,
Three extra points for the Wells Fargo Center; three is the number of championships the franchise has won and also the jersey number of the last truly electric 76er, a man by the name of Allen Iverson.
The 76ers may not have Chamberlain, Barkley or Erving anymore. The team has been to the Finals once since 1983, and they lost the 2001 Finals in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers. Even still, there is optimism in the air of the Wells Fargo Center. Every season that passes is one that expands the rich history that this franchise has to its name since being established in 1946 by Italian immigrant and future Hall-of-Famer Daniel Biasone. Since winning the NBA Title in 1983, the city of Philadelphia has brought home just one sports championship, despite having a professional team in each of the four major sports (Phillies in 2008). Considering the recent struggles of both the Eagles and the Phillies, maybe the next Philadelphia team to win a championship plays their home games at the Wells Fargo Center. Will it be the Sixers or Flyers, however? With high levels of entertainment, a plethora of choices in terms of food, and very loyal fanbase, the center is a great home for an NBA team with a great history.
The Wells Fargo Center is the home of the Philadelphia 76ers and Flyers. Built near the soon to be demolished 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 Phillies.
The first of the three to be built, the Wells Fargo Center is all glitz and glamour, but it lacks the Spectrum's soul.
Wells Fargo Center is the home of the Philadelphia 76ers, Flyers, Soul, and Wings. Opening in 1996, it shares the Philadelphia Sports complex with the Eagles’ Lincoln Financial Field and the Phillies’ Citizens Bank Park. Built to physically replace the Spectrum, it now wants to rock like the Spectrum did.
When you go to City of Brotherly Love, you don't always get the love you want or expect. People in Philadelphia have a reputation for a reason. There's always exceptions to that rule. Philly people are very passionate sports fans and they like to voice their opinion. As for going to see the 76ers play, it's always an entertaining and fun filled atmosphere in the building. They provide great in house entertainment throughout the game which keeps people interested even if the game on the court isn't what you hoped for. Go there and see for yourself. Clap your hands everybody for the Philadelphia 76ers. Yours truly, Gary Herman
Philly fans have this rep as hardcore, die hard sports fans. Didn't see it at the Sixers game. They played the Brooklyn Nets, and there were plenty of fans in attendance cheering for the Nets, who were not shouted down or shouted over. There were also a ton of empty seats. I love the fact that they share space with Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park, so its really easy to get in and out and find parking. The concession prices are probably the highest that I've ever seen. Loved the Sixers original song, which was kind of a swinging motown sound. Overall an okay experience, but not over the top, and not what I expected.
I would take any of the Philly home games over a Sixers game
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