There’s something about Philadelphia that converts everybody who comes here into vocal sports fans.
Maybe it’s the wealth of teams — Philly is home to the NFL’s Eagles, NHL’s Flyers, NBA’s 76ers and MLB’s Phillies, as well as Arena Football League’s Soul and Major League Soccer’s Union. Over the past five decades, the city has claimed two Stanley Cup trophies, two World Series titles, two NBA championships and two Arena Bowl titles, while regularly making deep runs into the playoffs. Maybe it’s the long and storied history of college sports, including championship football and basketball squads from the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, St. Joseph’s University and Villanova University (2016 NCAA basketball champions), or major annual events such as the Army-Navy Game, the Philadelphia Marathon and the Penn Relays. Or perhaps it’s the competitive nature of Philadelphians, who are known for being outspoken advocates of their favorite teams and players but who always reward a heartfelt performance with their support.
Whatever gives Philly its sports passion, you won’t want to miss out on the excitement of attending a game or another live athletic event.
Much of the action takes place at the city’s sports complex in South Philadelphia. It’s the site of the 67,594-seat Lincoln Financial Field (aka the Linc), home of the Eagles and the location of the Army-Navy Game for 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2017. The adjacent 19,000-plus-seat Wells Fargo Center hosts the Flyers, 76ers and Soul, while across the street is Citizens Bank Park, home of the Phillies and a 43,647-seat natural-grass stadium with commanding views of the Center City skyline.
Serving all the venues is Xfinity Live!, a major entertainment complex with a 24-foot wide video board showing sporting events and movies. Multiple pubs and restaurants make for a great stop before or after a game or any time you need a sports fix.
Across town in West Philadelphia, Franklin Field is the historic home stadium for the University of Pennsylvania’s Quakers football squad and the Penn Relays, the nation’s oldest and largest amateur track meet held each spring. In University City, the intimate 8,722-seat Palestra, which dates to 1895 and is considered the birthplace of college basketball, is the center of excitement when the Big 5 (Penn, La Salle, St. Joe’s, Temple and Villanova) play out their fierce hoops rivalry there.
Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, City Hall and nearby neighborhoods from the backdrop for the 26.2-mile route of the Philadelphia Marathon, which is held every year on the third Sunday of November. Another popular race is the Broad Street Run, which takes place on the first Sunday in May and, with more than 40,000 participants, is considered the biggest 10-mile race in the country.
Fans also gather before, during and after games in crowded sports bars like Chickie’s & Pete’s named North America’s best sports bar by ESPN); where they claim a stool at their favorite neighborhood watering holes to cheer their teams. They also flood the phone lines of local sports-radio shows and chat areas of sports blogs to voice their opinions about what the teams and players are doing right — and where they need to improve.
UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL
All three major venues boast excellent sight lines from every section and HD video and digital signage to further showcase the action. Super fans also like to see and be seen. At the Linc, the sections in the 100 level around the 50-yard line are considered ideal. At the Wells Fargo Center, Flyers fans prefer the 100- and 200-level seats near center ice, while 76ers followers shoot for courtside seats on the east or west sides.
In Citizens Bank Park, many Phillies fans find the field-level seats between the dugouts combine good value and vantage points. The Phillies reserve 500 tickets each game for standing room and post updates on available seats on Twitter and Facebook.
Each facility also boasts its own pregame rituals. Before Eagles games at the Linc, fans congregate at Head House Plaza, a 100,000-square-foot area at the north end of the stadium that features a giant video screen and a team store. You can take your own food or sample the offerings from some of the city’s best food trucks. Get there at least an hour and a half in advance when the gates open to watch players warm up and maybe even snag an autograph.
The Wells Fargo Center is the host of the Bud Light Block Party, which gets going about two hours before every Flyers and 76ers game in the area outside the Cure Insurance Club on the 11th Street side. Come early for grilled specialties, gourmet truck fare, live music, interactive games and opportunities to meet team alumni and mascots. (However, if you want a Flyers autograph, your best bet is to attend practice on a non-game day at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ).
When the Phillies are in town, you can stop before a game at McFadden’s pub; mingle with other fans along Ashburn Alley, a walkway with food stands and games that’s named after Phillies Hall of Famer and long time broadcaster Richie Ashburn; or check out batting practice.
This is also the time to seek Phillies’ autographs: You’re welcome to approach players from Sections 133 to 138 and Sections 109 to 114 up to 45 minutes before the game or until batting practice is over, whichever comes first. Once the batting cage is taken off the field, it’s time to find your seat and get ready for the first pitch.
Whether you’re a follower of team or individual sports, Philadelphia has it all covered, with plenty of chances to witness the action at state-of-the-art venues or on the streets.
You’ll want to come hungry to Philadelphia’s major sports venues, where the iconic cheesesteak is just one of the many mouth-watering options available at food stands, pubs and sit-down restaurants.
At both Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park you can compare local favorites such as the hoagie and the roast pork sandwich with the classic Philadelphia cheesesteak. Be sure to pair your sandwiches with an order of Chickie’s & Pete’s famous crab fries. Looking for healthier fare? The Linc has been designated by PETA as the NFL’s most vegetarian-friendly stadium, with a range of veggie wraps, hummus platters and fauxmeat hotdogs and steak sandwiches on offer.
At the Wells Fargo Center you can sample almost all of Philadelphia’s favorite foods — from classic Philly cheesesteaks and crab fries to local craft beer. Before Eagles games, fans gather to tailgate on the plaza outside the Linc — you can either bring your own snacks or chow down at a rotating selection of gourmet food trucks.