It may come as a surprise to you that in my 28 years on this planet that I have not once attended a Flyers road game. That changed last Sunday when I ventured up to Newark to see the Flyers take on the New Jersey Devils. Devils tickets are relatively cheap, readily available, and the Prudential Center is an easy train ride away.
The stadium is a bit of an oasis in the city. Imagine if the Wells Fargo Center was closer to one of Philly’s rougher neighborhoods, like Kensington, instead of in the sports complex in South Philly.
While the area around The Rock isn’t great, the arena itself is quite nice. The seating is comfortable and the sight lines are good. My only complaint is that the upper levels lacked cup holders, but seeing as the WFC just got them I can’t complain too much. I’m genuinely mystified as to why the Devils can’t fill that place up. There were a couple of sections that were nearly empty for a huge game against a division rival. Obviously they have some trouble coexisting in a crowded market with the Flyers, Rangers, and Islanders, but given their success in the past 20 years one would think they’d be selling out the place every night.
My favorite observation of the night is that Devils’ fans inferiority complex to New York makes Philadelphia’s seem like a joke. “Rangers suck” chants happen at every Devils game (in this case they added a little Flyers section at the back end). The fans around me spent a good amount of time talking about the Rangers as well. I guess living in the shadow of the Big Apple has that effect. The people who wore Rangers jerseys to the game didn’t help either. Seriously, I saw a Mike Richter, how random.
Devils fans will also take any opportunity to tout the skills of Martin Brodeur. Despite the fact that the Devils won the game with superior overall play and the Flyers put forth a lackluster effort, the game ended with chants of “Marty’s better”. He’s better than who? The Flyers’ backup goalie? Big whoop. Brodeur was certainly a factor in the win but not the deciding factor by any means. But hey, I guess when you have one of the all time greats you take any chance you can to laud his efforts.
Overall, the Devils have an impressive arena that’s easily accessible to opposing fans, both in cost and transportation. Sure, you have to put up with Devils fans and their Christmas-colored throwback jerseys, but you expect that going in. Having to endure a Flyers loss on my first road game was certainly disappointing, but was rectified by going to a dominant Flyers win back in the friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center. There truly is no place like home.