Beginning on April 4, the Philadelphia 76ers will be allowed to have their home arena – The Wells Fargo Center – filled to 25% capacity for games.
PA Governor Tom Wolf is increasing fan capacity
Outdoors like Citizens Bank Park can hold 50% (over 20,000 Phillies fans) and indoors like Wells Fargo Center can increase to 25% 👍🏼
This would start Sunday April 4
Philly would need to match that pic.twitter.com/8iF033X0gB
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) March 15, 2021
The announcement comes under the stipulation that the city of Philadelphia matches new state restrictions or raises their own.
The Sixers played their first home game of the season with fans in attendance on Sunday, welcoming approximately 3,000 people (15 percent capacity) into the home they share with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and NLL’s Philadelphia Wings. Buoyed by the return of All-Star guard Ben Simmons, the team blasted the San Antonio Spurs, 134-99.
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At 25% capacity, nearly 5,000 fans would be allowed in attendance to cheer on the current top seed in the Eastern Conference. Sunday’s tilt against the Spurs was the first at The Wells Fargo Center with fans since March 11, 2020, due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Tobias Harris on First Home Game With Fans: ‘It Felt Like a Packed Crowd’
In a postgame interview following Sunday’s blowout, Sixers forward Tobias Harris said having fans back in the arena has a huge impact on the team.
“From the minute we came out of the huddle, the energy that they provided us was long overdue for us, to have our fans. We’ve played in a couple of arenas with fans, but it felt like a packed crowd tonight, just how loud they were and their energy and the atmosphere,” Harris said. “I think (Ben Simmons) was a little animated tonight because of the fans being in the arena.”
“The energy is completely different when they’re there,” Simmons added. “I think it was a great experience for everybody who hasn’t played with Philly that’s on the Philly team now, to really understand that, and I think they really understand that now. Even if it was 3,000 fans, you could really feel them and feel the energy in there.”
Head coach Doc Rivers expanded on the crowd atmosphere, noting how much of a jolt it can give the players.
“Man when they were there, and you walked out, it was awesome,” he said. “I thought their noise, their spirit, I thought it got our guys excited. It’s amazing how much we miss the fans, in particular miss our fans. And I thought our crowd came like they hadn’t been to a game either, and they couldn’t wait to cheer, and fortunately we gave them something to cheer for.”
Big-Time Home Games Slated for End-of-Season
The second half of the season at home couldn’t have started much better, but Rivers and company know that the schedule will only get tougher.
“We actually talked about it after the last game before the All-Star break, that the second half is going to be tough. A lot of games, I anticipate guys to be in and out, so we have to be ready, but we can’t use those games as excuses not to play well and not to execute and not to win, and I think our guys have heard that, and they’re coming to play.”
The Sixers will stay home and face the surprisingly playoff-hopeful New York Knicks on Tuesday night in what will be their second of four straight games in Philadelphia. They will take on the Milwaukee Bucks in a difficult second half of a back-to-back on Wednesday.
In mid-April, once the team is hopefully back to at least 25% fan capacity, the Sixers will have a tough four-game home set against the Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Phoenix Suns.