Opened in 1996, the First Union Center is home to the NHL Flyers and NBA 76ers, and also
plays as host to a number of minor league teams and to the Atlantic 10 basketball
tournament. This outstanding facility replaced the Spectrum, which stands next door and is
still used as the  home venue to the Flyers AHL affiliate, the Phantoms. Together, these two
venues compliment each other in presenting a wide range of sports and entertainment
events.

Getting to the venue
The arena is located at the south end of the city of Philadelphia, and getting here is pretty
easy. Take either I-76 or I-95 south of the city and signs will direct you to the "Sports
Complex". The main thoroughfare in town ... Broad Street, runs right by the facility.
Traveling by subway is also an option, with the Pattison station dropping you off a short
walk from the arena door.

Outside the venue
The First Union Center is part of the city's "Sports Complex" which also includes the
Spectrum and Veterans Stadium. These facilities all share parking, thus the building is
surrounded by large surface lots. The landscape around the center is changing fast, as
new stadiums for both the Eagles and the Phillies are under construction nearby, and
eventually Veterans Stadium will be demolished for parking. Interestingly, this is the only
city which houses all of its sports franchises in one central location.

No matter where you are in the parking lots, you can catch a view of downtown
Philadelphia's impressive skyline, off in the distance. Also we recommend that you take a
walk around the Spectrum and view the scultpures that symbolize the essence of sport in
Philadelphia --- a statue of Kate Smith and her famed rendition of "God Bless America"; a
memento to Dr. J, and our favorite, "Thunder in the Heart", depicting character Rocky
Balboa from the "Rocky" movies. This statue was shown in the movie on the steps of the
Philadelphia Museum of Art. - who can forget that memorable scene of Rocky running up
those stairs, fists pumped high in the air!?

This arena is beautiful! The main entrance and drop off area is on the west side. A separate
ticketing lobby is adjacent to the main entrance, and as you walk through the doorways,
right off to the side is an atrium shaped team store displaying merchandise in the many
windows.

The concourses
Stepping into the huge atrium on the Broad Street side is a feast to the eyes! Here you will
find a stage offering pre game entertainment, an impressive video wall with a jumobtron
type video screen, long escalators to take you to the top of the building, and the
centerpiece hanging from the ceiling is a beautiful glass paneled sculpture, cascading
down and depicting silhouetted figures of athletes and entertainers.

Explore the concourses here and you will find all sorts of cool stuff - Along all the corridors
one can find historical exhibits and memorabilia of the teams. Interactive kiosks allow you
to look up players, games and great moments in Flyers and 76ers history.  Also tastefully
displayed are showcases and memorabilia of the city's NPSL team, the Kixx and the NLL
team, the Wings. One of the coolest and most unique displays we saw were exhibits of
Flyers hat tricks. In essence, the hats tossed onto the ice were collected, placed into a
display box along with a photo of the Flyers player who performed the feat and the date it
happened. Nice! One can also find a portrait gallery of current Flyers and 76ers players,
complete with player stats and bios, and all framed by replica championship banners of the
two teams. Throughout the concourses one can find air hockey tables and near the
escalators in the upper concourse is a skeet basketball area.

Concessions
Food areas are grouped into action stations. Each of these areas has a different theme,
and the food selection is superb. Of course no visit to this city is complete unless you try a
Philly Cheese Steak, and the ones we had here at the arena were outstanding! Here at the
arena is a facility called the "Red Bell Brewery and Pub", with its own microbrewery and
beer produced onsite, and carving station offering fresh carved sandwiches. Adjacent to
the pub is Holt's Cigar Store, selling fine cigars and accessories.

The seating bowl
All seats in the bowl are colored wine red. The arena is set up in two levels, with the upper
part of the lower level designated as club seating, with access to a private concourse.
Suites can be found on three different levels - some on the club level, a suite level, and
skybox suites at the top of the building.  An eight sided jumbotron board and single color
dot matrix board hangs in the center, and of course, a state of the art digital LED board was
added last season and wraps around the upper balcony. Atop the lower level are backlit ad
panels and out of town scoreboards.

Club seating and premium seating
This arena offers a separate club and suite level, and a fine dining establishment called the
Victors Club with a view of the playing surface at the top of the lower level. Luxury suites
are served by their own private elevator, concierge service access to premium dining
areas such as Victors Club and the Red Bell Back Room, a membership only club adjacent
to the brewery.

Banners/retired numbers
Both franchises have a great history - the Flyers Stanley Cups in the 70s, the Sixers NBA
titles in 1966 and 1983, and the rafters here are loaded with banners celebrating the
accomplishments of these two franchises. You know the names - Bernie Parent, Bobby
Clarke, Wilt Chamerlain, Dr. J. and Charles Barkley amidst a whole host of others. Even
Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel have their banners commemorating their incredible run of
sellouts here.

Hat Tricks, Extra points, Penalties

Hat trick - to Comcast Sports, who have built a full fledged studio right in the concourse.
Fans can watch the execution of a sports broadcast from behind glass panels. Awesome
concept!

Extra point - the number of games available, the air hockey and basketball shoot is the
most extensive of any place we have seen - games can be found anywhere in the
concourses.

Hat trick - to the magnificent atrium lobby complete with stage! How nice to have live music
serenading patrons as they walk in.

Summary
An awesome venue! We can only come up with two deduction points - the upper
concourses are somewhat congested (suggestion - move the air hockey tables to open up
more space). Second, we always prefer these venues to be downtown. Otherwise this
venue offers superior design, ambience, decor and we have seen elements of this venue
incorporated into newer building elsewhere. While a Sixers game is a fun experience here,
it is the Flyers who are top dog in this building, combining their on the ice success with a
terrific marketing program which combines their AHL affiliate in the building next door into
one stop shopping for the hockey fan. It is for this reason that we bestow the Flyers our 5
star rating as one of the top NHL experiences.

SCORING (76ERS)
Architecture 7
Food and team store 8
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Ushers 5
Fan support 8
Location and neighborhood 4
Banners and history 8
In game entertainment 5
Concourses/fan comfort 8
Bonus: 2 Comcast Studio; 3 Interactive kiosks
Total: 65

SCORING (flyers):

Architecture 7
Food and team store 8
Scoreboard and electronics 7
Ushers 5
Fan support 8
Location and neighborhood 4
Banners and history 8
In game entertainment 5
Concourses/fan comfort 8
Bonus: Comcast studio 2; interactive kiosk 3;
USRT red carpet treatment 4

Total: 69
Wells Fargo Center
#39   




First Union
Center   




PhiladelphiaPennsylvania   




May 13,
2000




Indiana
Pacers
at
Philadelphia76ers
(NBA
Playoffs)




#109   




First Union
Center   



Philadelphia,Pennsylvania   



March 16,
2002




Colorado Avalanche
at Philadelphia Flyers




(Note: Venue
originally
named Core
States Center
and then
renamed
First Union
Center and then
Wachovia
Center)