Wells Fargo Center History
The Wells Fargo Center, one of the busiest arenas in the world, is home of the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League, the Philadelphia 76ers of the National Basketball Association, and the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League. After opening its doors for the first time with the World Cup of Hockey on August 31, 1996, the Wells Fargo Center has hosted a variety of nationally-recognized events, including:
- 1998 U.S. Figure Skating Championships
- 1999 AHL All-Star Weekend
- 2000 NCAA Women’s Final Four
- 2000 Republican National Convention
- 2001 NCAA Men’s East Regional
- 2001 NBA Finals
- 2001 and 2002 ESPN X-Games
- 2002 NBA All-Star Weekend
- 2006 NCAA Men’s First and Second Rounds
- 2008 U.S. Gymnastics Championships
- 2009 NCAA Men’s First and Second Round Tournament Games
- 1997 and 2010 Stanley Cup Final
- 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships
- 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Second and Third Round Tournament Games
- 2014 NCAA Frozen Four
- 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball East Regional Tournament Games
August 21, 1996
The ribbon cutting ceremony: The voice of the Flyers, Gene Hart, served as master of ceremonies. Ed Snider cut the ribbon as Flyers President Bob Clarke and 76ers President Pat Croce held the ribbon. Everyone attending the event received a commemorative coin.
August 31, 1996
The inaugural event: Team USA vs. Team Canada in a first round game of the World Cup of Hockey. A crowd of 19,500 attended the event. Team USA’s John LeClair scored the first goal ever in the CoreStates Center at 5:01 of the first period. Team USA went on to win the contest 5-3.
September 2, 1996
The inaugural concert: Oasis with Manic Street Preachers and Screaming Trees. An estimated crowd of 12,000 attended the show. Prior to the show, CoreStates Complex President Peter Luukko and promoters Larry Magid and Allen Spivak presented the band with a bronzed “first ticket” to the first concert ever at the CoreStates Center.
September 10, 1996
Game One of the World Cup of Hockey Finals: Team USA vs. Team Canada. Despite Team USA scoring with seven seconds remaining in regulation on a John LeClair goal, Team Canada prevailed in sudden-death overtime.
October 5, 1996
The Flyers played their first regular season game at the CoreStates Center, a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers. Dainius Zubrus became the youngest player in Flyers history at 18 years, three months and 20 days old on opening night. Zubrus also recorded his first NHL goal in the game.
October 7, 1996
The Flyers’ first win at the CoreStates Center was also the 700th home victory in franchise history–a 3-1 win vs. New Jersey.
October 8, 9 & 11, 1996
KISS, in full make-up, became the first band to play three nights at the Center. The band was presented with bricks from “The Walk” prior to the third and final night. October 11 was the first time that events took place in both buildings simultaneously. The Phantoms hosted the Binghamton Rangers at the CoreStates Spectrum.
October 15-20, 1996
The first family show to play at the Center was Walt Disney’s World on Ice – The Spirit of Pocahontas. There were a total of 10 shows during the run.
April 26, 1997
The Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3, in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals to win the series four games to one. It was the final game in the illustrious career of Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux. The crowd gave Lemieux a standing ovation at the end of the game.
May 31, 1997
In Game One of the Stanley Cup finals, 20,291 fans set a record for the largest audience in Pennsylvania history to attend a hockey game.
January 5-11, 1998
Michelle Kwan and Tara Lipinski were among the skaters who earned berths to the 1998 Winter Olympic Games with their performances in the 1998 U.S. National Championships held in the CoreStates Center.
April 26, 1998
The Philadelphia Wings win game one of a best of three NLL Championship series against the Baltimore Thunder. The Wings would go on to defeat Baltimore two days later at the Baltimore Arena to capture their fifth Championship in franchise history.
September 8, 1998
The first event at the Center under its new name, the First Union Center. On July 15, 1998 an announcement was made about the name change and the beginning of the transition. Garth Brooks, on the opening night of six sold out shows, took the honor as the first event ever in the First Union Center.
January 24-25, 1999
During the AHL All-Star Weekend festivities, 13,028 fans filed into the First Union Center to watch Team Canada defeat Planet USA 15-12 in the skills competition. Planet USA exacted revenge the following day with a 5-4 victory on Chris Ferraro’s game winning goal in front of 14,120 spectators.
September 13-25, 1999
Bruce Springsteen sold out six shows at the First Union Center pushing his total to 37 Philadelphia sellouts.
March 31, 2000 and April 2, 2000
The road to the Final Four ended in Philadelphia, as “March Madness” culminated with the sold out NCAA Women’s Final Four at the First Union Center. The April 2nd game drew 20,060 people, making this the largest crowd to see a college basketball game-men’s or women’s-in Pennsylvania.
July 31, 2000
40,000 people attended the Republican National Convention each day either as a media member, delegate, worker, or VIP, the First Union Complex became Pennsylvania’s 13th largest municipality for the four-day run of the convention.
March 22-24, 2001
The NCAA Tournament returned to Philadelphia for the first time since the historic regional game between Kentucky and Duke in 1992 as the East Regional was held in the First Union Center. Duke went on to defeat the University of Southern California 79-69 to claim the region and advance to the Final Four in a game that set a single-game attendance record for Pennsylvania college basketball with 20,270 people.
June 13, 2001
20,900 fans packed the First Union Center to watch the 76ers take on the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. It was the 76ers’ first appearance in the finals since their championship season in 1983.
July 21-22, 2001
Madonna opened the United States portion of her Drowned Tour in Philadelphia on July 21. The “Material Girl” sold out both of her scheduled concerts at the First Union Center in 75 minutes.
August 17-22, 2001
The most anticipated event of the 2001 X-Games actually took place inside the First Union Center as Kenny Bartram won the first ever Moto X Big Air competition while AC/DC blasted throughout the arena, pumping up the crowd. The six-day event hosted 235,000 people.
February 13-24, 2002
The piano playing dynamic duo Billy Joel and Elton John sold out six shows at the First Union Center. The six shows, totaling in excess of 110,000 tickets, are the most performances in one city on the “Face to Face” Tour.
August 15-19, 2002
The ESPN X-games welcomed its 2 millionth fan when the games came to Philadelphia. The athletes showcased unprecedented tricks, introduced women’s exhibitions, and experienced a spectator fan base that exceeded the averages from 2001.
July 27, 2003
The Center changes its name to the Wachovia Center. That evening, the American Idols Live Tour performed as the first event in the Wachovia Center.
July 27, 2010
The Center changes its name to the Wells Fargo Center.
The Spectrum opened its doors to thousands of events from September 30, 1967, to its closing on October 31, 2009. From NHL to NBA championships with the Flyers and 76ers, to Dorothy Hamill’s first appearance with the Ice Capades and Elvis Presley’s last live performance, the building, known as America's Showplace, hosted just about everything.
Construction of the arena occurred at a rapid pace so that the city’s first National Hockey League franchise, the Philadelphia Flyers, could compete in the 1967-68 NHL season. Eleven months later, the Spectrum opened house for its first event ever, the Quaker City Jazz Festival. The two-day concert appeared from September 30 to October 1, 1967.
“This building was just an idea 16 months ago”, said Ed Snider at the time. “We got it done in record time.”
First night patrons fought huge traffic tie-ups going into the parking lots, delaying the jazz festival by fifty-five minutes.
The last of six main acts, which included Ramsey Lewis, Hugh Masakela and comedian Flip Wilson, did not finish until 3 a.m. The second performance drew a full house of 17,500 fans. It was the largest indoor audience in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania history. A 12-day run of Holiday on Ice followed. Boxing was the first sporting event at the young building, featuring a Joe Frazier vs. Tony Doyle card, on Tuesday, October 17, 1967.
The next morning, the official dedication of the Spectrum took place under a canopy by the main entrance. The 76ers played their first game at the Spectrum that night, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers, 103-87.
The Flyers debuted in their new home on Thursday, October 19, 1967 with a 1-0 triumph over Pittsburgh.
Great Memories at The Spectrum
Click here for an alphabetical list of all Spectrum concerts.
- First Concert (Quaker City Jazz Festival) September 30, 1967
- First Family Show (Holiday on Ice) October 3-15, 1967
- First Sport Event (Boxing/Joe Frazier v. Tony Doyle) Oct. 17, 1967
- First 76ers game October 18, 1967
- First Flyers game October 19, 1967
- 20th Annual NBA All-Star Game January 20, 1970
- Kate Smith first sings before a Flyers game October 11, 1973
- Flyers win first Stanley Cup May 19, 1974
- Olga Korbut appears w/ Russian Gym Team November 10, 1974
- Flyers vs. Soviet Red Army January 11, 1976
- 29th Annual NHL All-Star Game January 20, 1976
- 26th Annual NBA All-Star Game February 3, 1976
- Luciano Pavarotti April 5, 1976
- First Flyers Wives Fight For Lives Carnival February 1, 1977
- Elvis Presley’s last Spectrum appearance May 28, 1977
- Bruce Springsteen’s eight sold-out shows 1981
- 1981 NCAA Final Four- Indiana v. North Carolina March 30, 1981
- Bobby Clarke Night November 15, 1984
- Julius Erving Night April 17, 1987
- Flyers v. Edmonton Oilers-Game 6-Stanley Cup Finals May 28, 1987
- Frank Sinatra/Liza Minelli/Sammy Davis Jr September 27, 1988
- The Philadelphia Wings win their first National Lacrosse League
- Championship April 7, 1989
- Billy Joel’s six-night engagement January 1990
- Wilt Chamberlain Night March 18, 1990
- Luther Vandross three sold-out shows October 1991
- 43rd Annual NHL All-Star Game January 18, 1992
- 1992 NCAA East Regionals-Duke vs. Kentucky March 28, 1992
- Grateful Dead’s 50th Spectrum concert October 7, 1992
- Billy Joel’s six-night engagement Sept.-Oct., 1993
- The Philadelphia Wings win their fourth NLL Championship April 8, 1995
- Mike Tyson vs. Buster Mathis Jr December 16, 1995
- 76ers final Spectrum home game April 19, 1996
- Flyers final Spectrum home game (playoffs) May 12, 1996
- Phantoms win the Calder Cup June 10, 1998
- Pearl Jam closes the Spectrum October 28-29 and 30-21, 2009