Answering questions for Flyers, Sixers fans as they return to Wells Fargo Center


After going 361 days without watching their team at the Wells Fargo Center, Flyers fans will be back in a limited capacity starting Sunday night.

The arena can permit 3,100 fans to attend Flyers and Sixers games moving forward. The Flyers will kick off the fans' return to the stands when they host the Capitals (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Sixers are set to play their first home game with fans next Sunday against the Spurs (6:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP). The Sixers played the last game at the Wells Fargo Center with fans in attendance back on March 11, 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic changed the way of life across the United States.

"Just take a moment and to think about a year since we’ve been in the arena, it’s hard to imagine," Phil Laws, the senior vice president of arena operations and general manager of the Wells Fargo Center, said Friday in an interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "I remember walking out the day after that last Sixers game and kind of flippantly telling people, ‘Hey, I’ll see you in April,’ and thinking that was a long time. To know that a year has gone by is just unbelievable.

"The planning really started right away. We never really stopped the planning, we always had this idea that, ‘Listen, we’re going to get back into the building, we’re going to start planning first for how we get employees back in, then focus on how the teams are going to return and then finally how the fans are going to get back in.’

"Along the way in that year, we made lots of wrong turns, just like everybody did, right? We kind of learned along with the country, along with the health officials, what was working, what wasn’t working. Lots of plans got torn up, thrown in the trash, rewritten, revised, vetted again. It was really in the last, I would say, four months that in earnest we started to focus on the fan journey and what that all means. A lot of the technology we had been thinking about but really putting it into action, the last fourth months is when it really started to take shape into what it is today.”

As fans return, let's answer some questions they might have:

When can fans arrive?

The parking lots and arena entrances open an hour before each game. Tailgating is not yet permitted.

"Lines will be short, gates will be quick," Laws said. "It should be a very convenient entry process, to the extent that we can with the protocols in place, of course."

What does the health screening process entail?

On their ticket, fans will have a specific door location in which to enter the arena. The door location will correspond with a parking location. 

Fans must wear their mask once they exit their vehicle.

As fans walk up to the arena, they'll meet a health perimeter at which a screening process is conducted. Fans will go through a COVID-19 symptom check before entering the security check.

How will everything look in the concourse and stands?

There will be social-distancing signs to guide fans through the concourse for food and beverage concessions (beer is being sold).

Fans have to be in their ticketed seat to enjoy the food and beverage. Fans must slide their mask back up during the process of taking it down while they enjoy the food and beverage.

"We're taking it very seriously, we're going to be very strict in enforcing it," Laws said. "I would make this plea to everyone, this is the thing that you can all help us with. It's not a lot of fun to wear masks, it's certainly less fun to chase people and tell them to put on masks, if you can imagine. If we can all look at this as being in it together, help ourselves, help our staff to just keep those masks on when you're in the building."

In the stands, there will be seating pods of two and four seats in the bowl, while the luxury boxes can feature six.

"All these pods and all the suite seating, everything is six feet distance," Laws said. "If you were to take a tape measure and a radius around them in any direction, you're not going to hit another person until you get outside of that radius."

What was the arena renovation?

The Wells Fargo Center underwent an $11 million renovation of the HVAC system, which has all the air in the seating bowl of the arena replaced every 30 minutes.

"We did it so that our teams can play deep into the summer and have the right kind of conditions," Laws said. "It also had this wonderful benefit of us being able to bring in 100 percent outside air and treat it — make it the right temperatures and the right humidities so that we're able to refresh the bowl for this health and safety initiative."

In early February, the Wells Fargo Center received the International WELL Building Institute's health-safety rating for facility operations and management, which is a third-party verified rating of the arena's health and safety protocols. Other major buildings and venues like the Empire State Building, Taipei 101 Tower, Yankee Stadium and AT&T Stadium are enrolled in the WELL programs.

Will the team shops be open?

Yes they will with restrictions on capacity. The walk-up stands will also be open.

You can listen to the full interview with Laws right here on the Flyers Talk podcast.

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