Established in 1967 and winners of back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975 (the first expansion team outside of the original six to win the trophy), Philadelphia’s National Hockey League team, the Flyers, quickly gained the admiration of the city thanks in part to their rough playing style, never-quit attitude, and fierce personalities on the roster. Fast forward to today and the team’s fan base is perhaps as large and as loyal as it’s ever been with an exciting new roster – and a new furry mascot – to keep fans engaged throughout the winter and spring.
Looking to immerse yourself in Flyers culture during your time in Philadelphia? Put on your best Orange and Black and pursue these must-experience activities.
For hockey fans, nothing beats the in-stadium energy during a live game. To make things even better, the Wells Fargo Center – home to both the Flyers and the Sixers – just unveiled sweeping new updates including new upper level fan sections and the world’s first kinetic 4K center-hung scoreboard. Tickets for Flyers home games are available through the team’s official site (for as low as $25) or through resellers such as StubHub. TIP: For the most passionate fan experience, grab tickets to a game against the Flyers’ cross-state rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
No one embodied the Flyers, especially those “Broad Street Bullies” teams, more than legendary Flyers owner Ed Snider. He was single-handedly responsible for bringing ice hockey to Philadelphia when he applied for an expansion team and was awarded the Flyers as a conditional franchise in 1966. Snider, known affectionately as “The Chairman” in hockey circles, was also instrumental in bringing hockey to the inner schools with his Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation. In 2017, he was memorialized with a nine-foot bronze statue outside the Wells Fargo Center, not long after he lost a long battle with cancer. The statue has quickly become a source of good luck, with many fans stopping to rub his Stanley Cup ring.
This is a new bucket-list item after the enigmatic Flyers mascot burst on the scene as a viral social media sensation who immediately captivated the hearts and minds of an entire city — and country. Gritty, a furry orange creature with googly eyes, was unveiled by the team on September 24, 2018 to much fanfare. He appeared on a slew of late-night talk shows and was even honored by Philadelphia City Council. Gritty literally flew into a Flyers game at the Wells Fargo Center like a wrecking ball, and young fans have been known to sneakily patrol the concourses looking for the 7-foot mascot. Fans may be able to spot the mascot at his new C.O.M.M.A.N.D. Center in the Wells Fargo Center’s lower concourse. Gritty’s immersive “office” allows fans of all ages to be “Grittified” with an appropriately orange makeover while also exploring a collection of mementos. TIP: You may also be able to find Gritty at one of his favorite city hangouts, as referenced in our interview with the mascot.
There is no better way to show your true Flyers fandom than by going to a live practice in Voorhees, New Jersey. It’s just a short hop, skip and jump away over the Ben Franklin Bridge (or Walt Whitman Bridge, if you prefer) and it’s completely free. The Virtua Health Flyers Skate Zone — originally constructed in 2010 — underwent a massive $15 million upgrade that took four years to complete. The team’s practice facility included a 13,450 square-foot expansion, plus the additions of a new gym, training room, skills and development area and medical center. Fans need to check Flyers social media to find out when practices are free and open to the public, or look for the long lines of autograph seekers wrapping around the building.
Painted just before the start of the 2019 season, the “Snider Hockey: Inspiring Our Youth” mural at the intersection of 10th Street and Snyder Avenue in South Philadelphia pays tribute to the Snider Hockey non-profit. Founded in 2005 and named for the late Flyers owner, Snider Hockey uses ice hockey as a vehicle to empower and educate city youth who would otherwise not have had the opportunity to play the sport. Fans will likely find dozens of other artistic tributes to the Flyers spread throughout the city, including a life-size portrait of Gritty adorning the side of a building at the intersection of 10th Street and Passyunk Avenue.
Another must-do for fans is eating a Flyers-shaped soft pretzel. There are conflicting reports on whether Philadelphia invented the soft pretzel — we do know they were brought to Pennsylvania by German immigrants in the 1800s — but the delicious doughy treats can be found on every corner in the city, including inside the Wells Fargo Center. In fact, they twist them into the shape of the Flyers’ famous winged logo and vendors peddle them to hungry fans. Philly Pretzel Factory serves the Flyers-shaped pretzels at their many stores, too. But those are limited release items, reserved for opening day and big playoffs games. The Wells Fargo Center has sold an estimated five million soft pretzels since opening their doors in 1996.
If you can’t make it to an actual game (or if the team is away), there are plenty of sports bars that will be filled with local fans and their TVs tuned into the action. The first stop has to be Xfinity! Live because of its lively atmosphere and close proximity to the arena. You will no doubt see the Flyers Ice Girls and the multi-bar complex routinely pipes in real sounds from the game, including Lou Nolan’s infectious “PECO Power Play” call. Other local bars with great hockey-watching environments include: Chickie’s & Pete’s, City Tap House, McGillin’s Olde Ale House, Cavanaugh’s Headhouse, and Field House. For an outside-the-box move, check out Ray’s Happy Birthday Bar on East Passyunk Avenue or Grumpy’s Tavern on South 9th Street in South Philly. For a full list of the city’s top sports bars, click here.