T oday it’s easier than ever to watch a sporting event on TV. But the allure of being at a stadium to watch the action unfold live is still unmatched. What keeps bringing us back? Is it the atmosphere? Is it the people? The food? Maybe it’s all of these things and more. The Players’ Tribune wanted to get a closer look at the people surrounding the sporting events we love — the people who nobody comes to watch, but who serve a vital role in supporting the magic of the game-day experience.
Welcome to our series called “From Where I See It.” For our latest entry, we wandered around the Wells Fargo Center to get stories from some of the people behind the scenes at a Philadelphia Flyers game.
Scott | Season Ticket Holder
“When I was younger, I had three roommates who played for the Flyers — Brian Propp, Scott Mellanby, Rick Tocchet. Brian’s my best friend, and when he got traded by the Flyers to Boston in 1990, I took over his player tickets. He went on to play in Minnesota and Hartford, but we always kept in close contact.
Late in his career, he came back as a member of the Whalers to play in Philly. He was at 998 career points, so his wife and I came to the game hoping he would get two points somehow. He ended up scoring early in the first period, and we got pretty excited. Near the end of the game, the Whalers were up 4-3 and the Flyers pulled their goalie. Hartford’s coach knew Brian was at 999 points, so he put him out on the ice with a plan to help him get a point. Chris Pronger was a rookie for the Whalers at the time, and they won a draw back to him at center ice. Pronger dumped the puck in the zone, and Robert Kron, who was a speedster, chased it down and set up Brian’s 1,000th career point with 1.7 seconds left in the game.
His wife and I were going absolutely crazy, while all the fans around us were booing. He was the 41st player in NHL history to score 1,000 points. I’ll never forget that moment.”
Kevin | Ice Crew
“I’ve been on the ice crew for 31 years now, and my son started working under me in 2010. My brother and his son work on the ice also, so it’s very much a family thing. I was hard on my son at first, but he came around and knows what has to be done. He actually works at the outdoor games now; he’s getting ready to go to Boston for that. I’m proud of him.”
Grey | Flyers Mites on Ice
“My favorite player on the Flyers is Claude Giroux. He scores a lot of goals and I like that about him.”
Frank | Event Staff
“I drove an ice cream truck for several decades before this. After I retired, I spent a couple of years playing slots in Atlantic City, then I got bored with that so I took a job here. I’ve been working in the elevators for 18 years now, and in all that time going up and down, I’ve developed some amazing friendships.”
George | Change Over Supervisor
“So tomorrow we’ll be changing from hockey to basketball. We have a total of 25 guys on the crew and we’ll come in, set the floor down, remove the glass and the boards, then we bring out both risers for extra seating. Once that’s set, we’ll bring out the basketball court, lay that down and finally we place all the chairs around the court. Ideally, we try to knock it all out in about six hours.”
Georgeann | Event Staff
“I started working with the Flyers 25 years ago while we were still at the Spectrum. I came here after my son died from an asthma attack. Being here was a big part of the healing process for me. I got to be around great people instead of staying home. It really helped me out when I needed it. And I’ve been here ever since.”
Ernie | Event Staff Supervisor
“I’ve been with the Flyers organization for 43 years. That comes out to about 1,700 home games, countless fights and two Stanley Cups, so I’ve seen a lot. I was here in 1976 when we beat the Soviets. I’ll never forget after the game when they flashed on the scoreboard: ‘Next Opponent: Mars.'”
Bernie Parent | Hall of Fame goalie, two-time Stanley Cup champion
“In 1967, I was coming off my second season with the Bruins. There were only six teams then. It was the off-season, and I was up in Montreal hitting some golf balls when my friend came up to me and said, ‘Hey, you got drafted!’ and I said, ‘Really? By who?’ and he said, ‘Philadelphia.’
I said, ‘Where’s that?’
When I came to the city for the first time that September, they put the whole team on a float so we could drive down Broad Street and be introduced to the city. Nobody showed up to the parade. It was like a ghost town.
Seven years later, we won the Stanley Cup and two million people celebrated with us on that same street.
How about that?”
Ed | Building Services Department
“Years ago, right around Thanksgiving time, they were giving us free turkeys. Charles Barkley was always a real funny guy, and he came down and snatched my turkey from me and ran up the ramp. I was like, ‘Noooo!’ But he came back smiling and returned it.”
Alan | Flyers Fan Club
“I was in 8th grade in 1971 and some people in my class were talking about the Flyers. I said, ‘What’s that?’ They told me to put on channel 29. I only had to watch for five minutes before I was hooked forever.”
Valerie | Bartender
“I work at a lot of sports venues in the city, and I can tell you that Philadelphia sports fans are just happier when their team is winning. When their team isn’t winning, they don’t want to hang around as much. They really take the losses hard, and you can see in their faces how upset they are. They carry it with them.
But because Philly fans have that deep passion, I think they enjoy the wins that much more. When the Flyers are winning, everyone has a smile. They want to spread their happiness with everyone around them. I’m all for that.”
Shayne Gostisbehere | Defenseman
“Last year was my first season as a pro. I played in only seven games before I tore my ACL and was ruled out for the rest of the year. This year I played 15 games in the American Hockey League before getting called up. It’s been a whirlwind. The fans are awesome. They’ll let you know if you’re doing bad, for sure, but they’re a lot of fun to play in front of. You’d rather have passionate fans than no fans at all.”