It’s still weird watching the Flyers or 76ers play games at the Wells Fargo Center and the building being empty.

Yes, we’ve been at this pandemic thing for 11 months now, so we should be used to it, but in a city like Philadelphia, which has a national profile for it’s fanbase, it’s impossible to get used to.

There needs to be fans in the building. It would be awesome if it could happen in time for the playoffs for both sports in late Spring, early summer, as both the Flyers and 76ers have their eyes set on a lengthy postseason run.

Maybe that’s why the powers that be at the Wells Fargo Center have taken the steps necessary to make it happen.

The Wells Fargo Center made significant health and safety advancements during the pandemic, including a recently completed, $11 million upgrade of its HVAC system with best-in-class filtration that completely replaces all the air in the arena’s seating bowl every 30 minutes.

In addition there are are new, comprehensive sanitization protocols that will educe contact points between staff and guests, new technology for contactless ticket scanning as well as for transactions for concessions, and a new plan has been put in place for crowd management protocols.

As a result, the Wells Fargo Center has been awarded the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations and Management – the first venue in Pennsylvania to earn this achievement.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is an evidenced-based, third party verified rating of a venue’s health and safety protocols.

Receiving this award is a big first step toward welcoming fans back in the building.

“The health and safety of our guests, employees, athletes and entertainers is our top priority – that’s why we’ve been working around the clock to ensure Wells Fargo Center is ready to welcome fans back later this year,” Valerie Camillo, President of Business Operations for the Philadelphia Flyers and Wells Fargo Center said in a statement.  “Receiving the WELL Health-Safety Rating is an incredible achievement that shows our fans that we’re committed to rigorous standards for health and safety.

“We know how much this building means to the entire city and the memories it creates for so many people. On top of this rating, we’re going to continue to follow the guidance of public health officials at the city, state, and national levels so that we’re ready to welcome fans back to Wells Fargo Center for hockey, basketball, concerts and more later this year. The WELL Health-Safety Rating, along with our extensive health and safety efforts, puts us on the path to bringing our fans and part-time workers back as safely and as soon as possible.”

The International WELL Building Institute awards the WELL Health-Safety Rating, which is grounded in the WELL Building Standard and which assesses new and existing buildings’ policies, protocols, and emergency plans to address pandemic challenges and broader health and safety issues in the future.

Venues around the world are enrolled in WELL programs – and not just sports and entertainment venues. Landmarks like the Empire State Building and the Taipei 101 Tower are a part of the program.

“Wells Fargo Center received this science-based designation as a result of its significant efforts to ensure the health and safety of all who enter the building,” Jessica Cooper, Chief Commercial Officer at IWBI, said in a statement. “Wells Fargo Center has taken significant steps, backed by scientific evidence, to help keep everyone safe when they visit the arena.”

This WELL Health-Safety Rating comes at a time the Wells Fargo Center has reopened, without fans, for the current NHL and NBA seasons. Each Flyers and 76ers home game thus far has been a success as far as health and safety protocols for those attending games that are considered essential – such as gameday staff, the media, and building operations folks.

The WELL Health-Safety Rating is created by being based on information from the IWBI Task Force on COVID-19, guidance on the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), global disease control and prevention centers and emergency management agencies and leading academic and research institutions.

“The health and safety of our players, staff and fans is our number one priority and we’re grateful to everyone who is working tirelessly to ensure the 76ers have a safe and successful season,” 76ers President Chris Heck said in a statement. “The newly-implemented protocols and processes have been a great success and none of this would be possible without the diligent efforts from our partners at Comcast Spectacor. We look forward to having our fans back in The Center with us and we know the building will continue to ensure a safe experience for all.”

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