By Andrew Porter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Happy 20th birthday to the Wells Fargo Center!

Exactly two decades ago, on August 31st, 1996, the arena opened with the World Cup of Hockey. Since then, the Wells Fargo Center has seen it all from Flyers and Sixers games, to the Democratic and Republic National Conventions, to the X games, to concerts, and more.

“Since opening in 1996, the Wells Fargo Center has been one of the busiest arenas in the world,” said John Page, President Wells Fargo Complex. “When you look back at what we’ve been able to accomplish in only 20 years, it is remarkable. I don’t think there’s an arena anywhere that has done what we’ve done in a similar time span.”

“Our successes are really a tribute to our founder Ed Snider’s vision to build this state-of-the-art facility to put Philadelphia on the map and in the national spotlight,” Page said.

Largest attendance numbers:

Professional Hockey: 20,327 (Flyers vs. Blackhawks, Game 6 of Stanley Cup Finals on June 9th 2010)

Professional Basketball: 21,305 (Philadelphia 76ers vs. Chicago Bulls on April 17, 1998)

College Basketball: 20,859 (Villanova University men’s basketball vs.  University of Connecticut on Feb. 13, 2006)

Concert: 21,424 (Backstreet Boys ‘Into the Millennium’ Tour on Sept. 29, 1999)

Family Show: 286,884 / 28 performances (Disney on Ice Presents Frozen Dec. 25, 2013 through Jan. 4, 2014)

Fun Facts: 

  • “Got Your Hot Dogs Here!”: Over the past 20 years, customers consumed over 2 million hot dogs, 800,000 cheesesteaks, 2.8 million soft pretzels, 1.2 million boxes of popcorn, and 8.1 million soft drinks.
  • Prior to the first public event at the Wells Fargo Center, Ray Charles held a private concert at the then CoreStates Center on Aug. 12, 1996. The first concert open to the public was on Sept. 2, 1996; it featured Oasis with The Manic Street Preachers and The Screaming Trees before an estimated crowd of 12,000.
  • The first fan to ever enter the Wells Fargo Center was John Demmy, who attended the World Cup of Hockey game on Aug. 31, 1996. He attended the game with his son, Daniel.
  • The first goal ever scored at the Wells Fargo Center was by Team USA’s John LeClair at 5:01 of the first period of the inaugural event – the World Cup of Hockey – on Aug. 31, 1996. *LeClair will skate through the Wells Fargo Center again as head coach for the USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game on Thursday, September 22.
  • The first Flyers’ goal at the Wells Fargo Center was scored by (then) rookie Dainius Zubrus at 4:04 in the first period of the home opener against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 5, 1996.
  • The first Sixers point ever recorded at the Wells Fargo Center was a foul shot by Derrick Coleman with 10:35 left in the first quarter of the home opener against the Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 1, 1996.
  • Sherrie Davis, of Pennsauken, N.J., was the 1 millionth fan to walk through the Wells Fargo Center when she attended a Philadelphia Flyers game on Jan. 9, 1997.
  • Israel’s 50th Anniversary Celebration began at the Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 24, 1998. Performing at the celebration were Richard Dreyfuss, Leonard Nimoy, Tony Bennett, Sarah Chang, The Philadelphia Orchestra and the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • Garth Brooks is the first musical artist to play six consecutive sold-out shows at the Wells Fargo Center since the venue opened on Aug. 31, 1996. On Aug. 1, 1998, over 120,000 tickets for the Brooks concert were sold in three-and-a-half hours.
  • Metallica performed a free outdoor concert in the Wells Fargo Center parking lot, drawing 40,000, on Nov. 11, 1997.
  • Phish performed the national anthem before two Philadelphia Flyers games (1997, 1999).
  • The Barenaked Ladies is the only band to perform at both the Spectrum and the Wells Fargo Center in the same day (on October 3, 1998), when they performed the “Star Spangled Banner” before the Flyers game that afternoon.
  • Bruce Springsteen accomplished an unprecedented feat in Philadelphia music history when his tour traveled a distance of 758 feet, nine-and-a-half inches in less than one day from the Spectrum to the Wells Fargo Center to perform on back-to-back nights in September of 1999, attempting to set a Guinness Book of World Record for shortest distance traveled between two concert performances.
  • Will Smith filmed portions of his “Freakin’ It” music video during half-time of a Sixers-Pacers game at the Wells Fargo Center in January 2000.
  • Brian McKnight sang the national anthem during the NBA Finals on June 10, 2001.
  • Boyz II Men national anthem during the NBA Finals on June 15, 2001.
  • Pennsylvania native Taylor Swift, at the time 11 years old, sang during a Sixers game in 2002.
  • The hit TV series Wheel of Fortune filmed a week of shows at the Wells Fargo Center in 2004 and hosted “Teen Best Friends Week” at the Wells Fargo Center in 2005.
  • Over 40,000 American Idol hopefuls attended the American Idol Season 7 Philadelphia auditions at the (then) Wachovia Center on Aug. 27, 2007.
  • March 24, 2010 – Bon Jovi performs two sold out shows on the same day at Wells Fargo Center. Jon Bon Jovi, keeping his word, delivered a free afternoon concert to celebrate the Philadelphia Soul’s Arena Bowl Championship. The band also played a sold out show later that evening.
  • A Comcast Spectacor employee proposed to his girlfriend during the Ringling Bros. Circus on Valentine’s Day in 2014. (She said yes! And they are now happily married)
  • Hanging from the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center are three banners in the orange and black colors honoring Pearl Jam’s 10 south Philadelphia sellouts, Billy Joel’s 48 Philadelphia sellouts and Bruce Springsteen’s 56 Philadelphia sellouts respectively.
  • Billy Joel has performed at the Wells Fargo Center more than any other artist (18).
  • Walking four and 3/8 laps around the main concourse of the Wells Fargo Center is equivalent to a mile.

Championships Won

  • 1998 U.S. Figure Skating Championships – Todd Eldredge / Men’s; Michelle Kwan / Women’s
  • 1999 WrestleMania XV – Stone Cold Steve Austin
  • 2000 NCAA Women’s Final Four -UCONN
  • 2001 NCAA Men’s East Regionals – Duke
  • 2001 NBA Finals – Los Angeles Lakers
  • 2004 WWE Royal Rumble – Chris Benoit
  • 2005 American Hockey League Championship – Philadelphia Phantoms
  • 2010 Stanley Cup Finals – Chicago Blackhawks
  • WWE Royal Rumble – Roman Reigns
  • 2011 NCAA Wrestling Championships – Penn State
  • 2014 NCAA Frozen Four – Union College *(Current Flyer Shane Gostisbehere (Union) was named Most Outstanding Player.)
  • 2016 NCAA Men’s East Regionals – University of North Carolina