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First Union Center
Multi-purpose indoor arena located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
The Wells Fargo Center, originally called Spectrum II, was completed in 1996 to replace the Spectrum as the home arena of the 76ers and Flyers, on the former site of John F. Kennedy Stadium at a cost of $210 million, largely privately financed (though the city and state helped to pay for the local infrastructure). It is owned by Comcast Spectacor, which also owns the Flyers, and is operated by its arena-management subsidiary, Global Spectrum. Since opening, it has been known by a number of different names through naming rights deals and bank mergers, including CoreStates Center from 1996 to 1998, First Union Center from 1998 to 2003, and Wachovia Center from 2003 to 2010. Since 2010, naming rights have been held by financial services company Wells Fargo, after their merger with Wachovia.
Before its construction, the proposed arena was tentatively called "Spectrum II". The Wells Fargo Center was originally named for CoreStates Bank, which agreed to pay $40 million over 21 years for the naming rights, with additional terms to be settled later for an additional eight-year period at the end of the contract.
However, the contract has gone through multiple hands due to various bank mergers; first by First Union Bank in 1998, Wachovia in 2003, and currently by Wells Fargo in July 2010. Installation of the new Wells Fargo Center branding began on July 27, 2010, with the removal of the Wachovia Center signage, followed by the installation of the new Wells Fargo Center signage. Work was completed in September 2010.
Beginning in the 2015-16 NBA season for a short time, the 76ers ceased recognizing Wells Fargo's naming rights and referred to the facility exclusively as "The Center", as the institution is not a sponsor of the team. The Wells Fargo Center logo decal which sat on the 76ers court was in the most minimal text discernible by television cameras, colored in white to blend in with the floor. (Reportedly, 76ers CEO Scott O'Neil's first idea was to color it with clear-coat paint only visible with UV blacklighting showing the logo during the opening of Sixers games when the arena lights were drawn down; however, the team, after discussion with their lawyers, elected not to do so.) With the start of the new year in January 2016 with input from Comcast Spectacor, the logo decal was enlarged and repainted in black. The 76ers then signed a non-signage sponsorship agreement with Firstrust Bank as their official banking sponsor.
Rink-side view of the Wells Fargo Center's hockey rink during a game between the Philadelphia Flyers and the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Wells Fargo Center officially seats 20,318 for NBA and NCAAbasketball and 19,541 for NHL hockey and indoor NLL lacrosse. With additional standing-room admissions available in luxury and club-box suites, the total paid capacity increases. The Wells Fargo Center has 126 luxury suites, 1,880 club-box seats, and a variety of restaurants and clubs (both public and private) available for use by patrons. In addition, the offices, studios, and production facilities of NBC Sports Philadelphia are all located in the facility.
Then-Wachovia Center prior to a 76ers game vs the New Jersey Nets (now Brooklyn Nets) on the old floor design.
Flyers fans leaving the Wachovia Center after Playoff Game in 2010.
On August 1, 2006, Comcast Spectacor announced it would install a new center-hung scoreboard to replace the original one made by Daktronics. The new scoreboard, manufactured by ANC Sports, is similar to other scoreboards in new NBA & NHL arenas. An additional linear LED display lining the entire arena was also installed between the suite and mezzanine levels. Other renovations for the Wachovia Center's ten-year anniversary included upgrading the suites with more flat screen HDTV's, as well as changing ticket providers from Ticketmaster to New Era Tickets, which is owned by Comcast Spectacor.
The PA announcer at the Wells Fargo Center for Flyers games is Lou Nolan, who moved with the team from the Spectrum, where he worked since 1972. Matt Cord is the PA announcer for 76ers games. Jim Bachman is the PA announcer for Villanova basketball games. Vinnie Caligiuri is the PA announcer for the Philadelphia Soul. Kevin Casey handled PA duties for the original Philadelphia Wings during their tenure. Marc Farzetta is the PA announcer for the current Philadelphia Wings.
Wells Fargo Center continued further renovations as part of a $265 million "Transformation 2020" initiative. It debuted a new "kinetic" 4K-resolution scoreboard in September 2019, which features two main arrays of outside displays that can expand outwards to a width of 62 feet, and two 65-foot "crown" panels that can be raised and lowered as part of sequences. The arena also unveiled a new premium area for selected ticketholders known as the "Center City Club",and--as part of a partnership with SugarHouse Casino--two sportsbook lounges open to all visitors, which will feature a bar and seating areas, televisions and odds boards, and SugarHouse ambassadors promoting use of the casino's sports bettingapp. The arena also announced the "New City Terrace", a revamp of the standing room deck into a 23,000 square-foot "Assembly Room" (inspired by Independence Hall), with bars and eateries, fireplaces, and communal areas. The area is designed to provide a "first-class experience at an accessible price point"; the arena's cheapest tickets will feature access to the level.
Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel sellout banners hanging in the rafters
On August 13, 1996, a private concert by Ray Charles was the first event at the CoreStates Center, with a crowd of nearly 12,000. Each spectator was given a commemorative key acknowledging they helped "open the arena". The inaugural concert, on September 2, 1996, featured Oasis, with The Manic Street Preachers and The Screaming Trees, before an estimated crowd of 12,000. The Wells Fargo Center has since held other concerts by many famous artists.
On December 6, 2002, hard rock band Guns N' Roses was scheduled to perform there on its Chinese Democracy Tour. The opening bands CKY and Mix Master Mike performed, but the main act, Guns N' Roses, never appeared, fueling a riot in the arena and causing about $30,000 to $40,000 in damage. No reason was ever given for the non-appearance by Guns N' Roses, other than the public announcement that one of the band members was ill.
In 2006, Billy Joel set a record when he sold-out his 18th Wachovia Center concert.
In addition, hanging from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center are three banners in the orange and black colors of the Flyers honoring Pearl Jam's 10, Billy Joel's 48 Philadelphia sellouts and Bruce Springsteen's 56 Philadelphia sellouts respectively.
The Flyers playing the New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center.
The 76ers playing the Los Angeles Lakers at the Wells Fargo Center in 2016.
Villanova Wildcats NCAA National Championship banners on display in the rafters. The Wildcats play select home games at the Wells Fargo Center.
Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League (AHL); The Flyers' AHL development club played some regular season and Calder Cup playoff games at the Wells Fargo Center each season between 1996 and 2009 when the Spectrum was unavailable because of other events.