Photos by Dave Cottenie, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Wells Fargo Center
3601 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, PA 19148
Year Opened: 1996 Capacity: 20,306
Wings Lax Still Flying
For many years, the Philadelphia Wings were one of the cornerstone franchises in the National Lacrosse League. The original Wings played in the old National Lacrosse League for the two seasons that they took the floor in 1974 and 1975. When the league resurfaced as Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse League in 1986 the Wings played in one of the original games on the first day.
The league would go through changes, with a period as the Major Indoor Lacrosse League before settling in as the National Lacrosse League in 1998. The Wings were part of all of those iterations. When the announcement was made that the Wings were sold to the Mohegan Tribe and moving to Connecticut to be the New England Black Wolves, it is appropriate to say that the lacrosse community was shocked. It didn’t take long for the parent company of the Philadelphia Flyers, Comcast Spectacor, to dive right into the NLL and bring an expansion team back to Broad Street. The new Wings took the floor in 2018.
The original home of the Wings was the venerable Spectrum. When the Wells Fargo Center opened and the Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers moved to the new venue, the Wings joined them. Opening in 1996 as the CoreStates Center, the building is now on its fourth moniker as a result of numerous bank mergers.
A massive renovation in 2020 has brought the arena up to modern standards and is favorably comparable to any venue in the National Lacrosse League. The Wings are still attempting to capture the imagination of Philadelphia sports fans and the magic of previous Wings iterations.
Food & Beverage 5
One of the major differences found at Wells Fargo Center as a result of the 2020 renovation is a commitment to improving the concession experience. Philly sports fans are now able to experience a premium concession experience. The regular arena favorites are all present, of course, however, they are now joined by many Philly favorites and higher quality items than were found previous to the renovation.
Some unique items that can now be found at Wells Fargo Center include Federal Donuts, huge, thin-crust pizza slices at Cuz’s Pizza, Vodka Parm Sandwiches and Italian Pork Sandwiches at 9th Street Italian Sandwiches, Mac & Cheese Balls at Line Change, various Philly Cheesesteaks at First Line Steaks, burgers and milkshakes from Shake Shack and Crab Fries from Chickie’s and Pete’s. Coca-Cola products are the soft drinks of choice at Wells Fargo.
Beer selections include Blue Moon, Yuengling, Stella Artois, Miller Lite, Labatt Blue, Bud Light, Coors Light, and Athletic Brewing Co. products. The concession scene deserves to be planned out a bit and a concessions map are available on the Wells Fargo Center website, or here.
The Wells Fargo Center is located in the South Philadelphia Wells Fargo Complex and is surrounded by parking. Although there is nothing overly exceptional about the exterior of the building, it is far from unattractive. There is not an overabundance of glass on the exterior of the building, but light-colored siding and brick are the main materials.
A couple of photo ops that fans may want to check out on the exterior, aside from the view of downtown Philadelphia, Lincoln Financial Field, or Citizens Bank Park, would include the statue of Wilt Chamberlain at the southeast corner of the building, or the statue of Ed Snider at the northwest corner.
Fans entering the Wells Fargo Center will be welcomed by newly designed concourses. Concession stands are grouped in various areas that include some seating areas to visit with other fans and enjoy a drink or eat some food before heading into the bowl.
The top sides of the concourse walls feature small murals and headings of numerous neighborhoods in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas which keep the local flavor of the building strong. Several Flyers and Sixers displays may interest fans as well. For Wings games, the smaller merchandise counters are where fans will find a variety of swag items.
When fans enter the seating bowl, their attention will immediately be drawn to the massive, concave, four-sided videoboard. Crystal clear and state of the art, the videoboard features long, concave screens to match the long sides of the floor with smaller, more square boards on the ends. The ribbon board that goes with the screen uniquely can be raised or lowered and has flames that shoot out for pregame festivities.
The floor runs from south to north with the perfect spot for the center logo picture to be taken, on the east side. A typical, two-level seating bowl separated by luxury boxes is found at the Wells Fargo Center. The seats in the Wells Fargo Center are new and spacious and much better than what was previously in the arena. In the southwest corner rafters hang banners for the Wings.
Retired number banners for Dallas Eliuk, Tom Marechek, Jake Bergey, and Kevin Finneran are joined by a banner noting 1989, 1990, 1994, and 1995 North American Cup Championships and 1998 and 2001 Champions Cup Championships. All honors are for previous iterations of the Wings, but it is good that the current Wings have continued to memorialize them.
The gameday atmosphere at a Wings game is not dissimilar to that of other NLL teams. The entrance for the players during pregame is highly produced with a hype video, followed by player entrances through a physical, illuminated version of the current Wings logo with plenty of loud music and flames.
Music plays throughout the action on the floor and there are plenty of promotions. The Philadelphia Wings Dancers take part in the pregame and perform at points during the game. The Wings mascot, Wingston, can be found traversing the crowd and interacting with fans during the game.
The Wells Fargo Center is located in the South Philadelphia Wells Fargo Sports Complex in the South Philadelphia East neighborhood, just across the Delaware River on the other side of New Jersey. There is not much in the way of a neighborhood that would be within walking distance of the arena. Xfinity Live is part of the complex as is the Live Casino and Hotel Philadelphia.
There are a couple of spots fans may want to check out for food or drink just south of the complex, including DiNic’s Pork and Beef and The Gatehouse. What the area lacks in pre and post-game food venues it more than makes up for access to other sports.
The Wells Fargo Center is shared with the Philadelphia Flyers and Philadelphia 76ers and periodically the Villanova Wildcats. Lincoln Financial Field is home to the Philadelphia Eagles and Temple Owls. The Army-Navy Game often resides at Lincoln Financial Field also. Citizens Bank Park is the home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Philadelphia Union plays in nearby Chester. There are also several college basketball sports fans who could check out including the Temple Owls, Drexel Dragons, Villanova Wildcats, LaSalle Explorers, and St. Joseph’s Hawks. Checking out the Palestra, home of the Penn Quakers, is a must for college basketball and Philadelphia basketball fans.
Fans wishing to stay close to the complex can either stay at the casino or the Courtyard Philadelphia South. Heading into downtown Philadelphia also offers a host of other tourist and food options fans should consider.
Assessing the fan situation in the National Lacrosse League is becoming increasingly difficult as attendance figures are often not published. It is safe to say that the current Wings have not enjoyed the same following that earlier versions of the team did. That being said, it seems that attendance at Wings games is on the rise.
The game that was attended for review had an odd, 11 am start time and still attracted over 7,000 fans. It is also safe to say that the Wings are not consistently breaking the 10,000 fan mark. Fans that are in attendance are knowledgeable and passionate. Hopefully, the word will spread and the average attendance for Wings games will continue to increase.
Getting to the Wells Fargo Center is not that difficult. The complex is located on Broad Street, immediately north of I-95 and south of I-76. Traffic can be a bit of a challenge, but it is not terrible. If multiple teams are playing in the complex at the same time, it could be more of a problem.
There is plenty of parking in the area. Fans wishing to take public transit can catch the subway to the NRG Station on the west side of the complex. Fans should see the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority website for fares, maps, and schedules. Getting around the Wells Fargo Center is not an issue.
With the renovations, all of the seats in the arena were replaced and the replacements are bigger and more comfortable than before. The washroom facilities are more than adequate for the crowd in attendance for Wings games.
Stadium Journey recognizes that security protocols for major sports are in constant flux. Stadium Journey highly recommends consulting the Philadelphia Wings and/or Wells Fargo Center websites for the most up-to-date security protocols including bag policy and prohibited items.
Return on Investment 4
The Philadelphia Wings put on a good show, with plenty of excitement, in a facility that is as good as any in the National Lacrosse League. The “fastest game on two feet” will engage fans and keep them on the edge of their seats and the Wings do a solid job of putting together a strong gameday package.
Wings tickets are not expensive and good seats can be found for $25 with both more and less expensive options available. Concession prices are what one would expect, but the concession experience is excellent. Parking is a bit on the expensive side, but average for other Philadelphia sports experiences. More fans in the stands would provide an even better lacrosse experience and bump the ROI even higher.
An extra mark for the recognition and embracing of the Philadelphia Wings past.An extra mark for the return of the NLL to a traditional lacrosse market. An extra mark for the significant renovation of the Wells Fargo Center
With the return of the Philadelphia Wings to the Philadelphia sports scene, thoughts back to the glory days of Philadelphia lacrosse are fresh in the minds of Philly fans. It seems rekindling those days is still a few years away, but with a renovation to Wells Fargo Center, the time is right to head to South Philly and take in some box lax.