Courtney Hain (@courtsideseats3) and Chris Coyle (@ruzzer24) detail the recent renovations at the Wells Fargo Center, while celebrating the Philadelphia 76ers’ victory over the Boston Celtics in the home opener!
Guess who’s back, back again. Sixers back, tell a… well if your friends don’t already know, we may need to re-evaluate. It’s Opening Night! Months after the doink seen around the NBA, the Sixers are back! The team is looking a little different than it did in May – and so is the Wells Fargo Center! While Elton Brand and the front office used the offseason to invest in players like Ben, Joel, Tobias, and acquire Philly newbies like Al Horford and Josh Richardson, the in-house staff was giving significant portions of the Wells Fargo Center a much needed facelift.
Subtle Changes Go A Long Way
Walking into the arena for the first game of the season, you can feel the excitement in the air. Balloons, music, fresh gear, Sixers chants – the fans are ready to go! That is until trying to find the access point to the new standing room only section of the Club Suite Level. The extra steps gave us the opportunity to check out the newly renovated parts of the main concourse.
A first timer may not notice the updates, but as fans who frequent the South Philadelphia stadiums, something as small as the blue ceiling tiles seems like the most elegant upgrade. (Authors’ note: rumor is that these ceiling tiles are interchangeable and will be orange for Flyers home games. Very cool!) Fan favorites like Lorenzo’s Pizza, Chickie’s & Pete’s, and P.J. Whelihan’s still stand out, but it seems designers rearranged the layout to give fans more of an “open hall concept” – feels much less crowded!
Once we found one of only two elevator banks that reach the Club Suite Level, we were met with an extraordinarily long wait. To the point that the elevator attendant was visibly frustrated. “Who are they bringing up now!?” he grunted to another staff member as the elevator sign continued to flash “EF” – Executive Floor, i.e. VIPs. Whoever said one elevator for over 700 tickets was a good idea was seriously disturbed. Nonetheless, the overall vibe was still positive – we’re all in this together, right? *cue high fives with strangers after the elevator doors close and we all squish*
New City Terrace
The doors finally open to the arena’s New City Terrace – and it’s beautiful! There are many staff members ready and waiting to welcome us, scan our tickets, and direct us to the “best spots.” One staff member actually took the phone with our tickets as a training example for another staff member…across the room, as we stood watching, waiting, and clogging traffic. He was back shortly and this did not hinder the experience, but it’s worth noting that it was clearly opening night for the staff as well. Minor growing pains.
After getting our opening night tee shirts, we turned to see the space ahead. Midnight blue painted walls and dark wooden high tops are accented with brown and navy blue leather furniture situated around fire places. (You read that correctly.) The white marble bar tops are the perfect accent to reflect the booming light of the newly installed Kinetic 4K Scoreboard. It’s “Mad Men” meets South Philly in the most perfect of ways. The 1776 office-vibe is worth every penny of the reasonably priced tickets.
New City Terrace is broken into “sections”: the Assembly Room and Revolutionary Row. The Assembly Room is a general admission area that offers standing room space and limited bar seating behind Revolutionary Row, one ticketed row of seats across the entire level. (Authors’ note: this floor also offers a semi-private space called Liberty Lofts. It seems similar to the Diamond Club of Citizen’s Bank Park, but it’s located directly across from the bathrooms, which puts the “semi” in semi-private.)
Something For Everyone
This level is truly for all ages and all fan types. Parents can bring their children for a fun family night and twenty-somethings can pose with the Instagram worthy cutout (see below). Tonight, we snapped George Washington crossing the Delaware River. (Sources say this backdrop will change with the games. Again, very cool!) Philadelphians who aren’t necessarily fans of the game, but want to watch on a TV and take Instagram worthy photos with fancy cocktails – this is the place for you. That being said, this is also a space for diehard fans. You have a full view of the floor and big screen, easy access to food, drinks, and restrooms, all with a 700-level sense of camaraderie.
Though tickets here are affordable (starting at $25), the drinks may not be the best bang for your buck. The “Sexy Franklin” concoction seemed tempting, but the drink is small and not powerful. The “Smoke Signal Old Fashioned” lives up to its name in that it’s pretty much a smoke and mirror show – you’re paying to watch the bartender hickory smoke your drink in a glass box, and nothing else. We recommend sticking with beers that you know, and they offer a wide variety – basic and decent craft options!
Whether you’ve been to the Wells Fargo Center one time or one hundred times, the tweaks to the arena will make you feel like you’re coming home. An extra polish here and an added pop there, everything this year just feels extra – Ben Simmons’ jump shot included. While the “Transformation 2020” renovation is money well spent and will be appreciated by all fans, what is really elevated is the intangible feeling of watching your favorite team, high fiving your seat neighbor on a big play, and experiencing it all as one stadium together. We’re all here for one thing…10, 9, 8, 76ers. #heretheycome