PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Flyers fans returned to Wells Fargo Center for the first time since COVID-19 closures shut down live sports in Philadelphia and beyond exactly one year ago. A few thousand fans were back to see the Flyers’ home game against the Capitals on Sunday night.

Hundreds of employees also returned to work.

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About 3,100 lucky fans were the first to get a chance to watch the Flyers live in nearly one year, and while things may look a little different this year, one thing that hasn’t changed — the passion of Philadelphia fans and Flyers Nation.

“It’s exciting, you know it’s been a long year. Just getting back out there, hearing fans come in even though it’s 3,000,” Daniel Redcay, who works at Wells Fargo Center, said. “That’s a start, but just ready for the game night atmosphere again.”

“It’s good to be back,” one fan said.

“We’ve waited for this for so long now,” another fan said.

For the first time in almost exactly a year, fans were welcomed back inside Wells Fargo Center to watch the Flyers at home against the Capitals, a 3-1 loss.

“It’s just a lot of fun to see the players and hear everybody cheer,” Brandon Hoff said.

About 3,100 fans — 15% of capacity — were greeted by Gritty and a sea of Orange and Black, along with some safety changes.

“We’ve gone contactless, we’ve gone cashless,” Mike Shane, the CBO for the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center, said.

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Mobile tickets and in-seat concessions along with social-distanced seating were set up to reduce touchpoints and crowding.

“Really easy and even parking, we bought it online beforehand and was able to scan it and in we go,” one fan said.

Something both fans and the nearly 400 employees who were able to come back to work Sunday say is worth it.

“They really are taking precautions, making everyone feel safe,” Redcay said.

“It’s nice to be able to get back to a bit of normalcy even though we still have to wear these masks. But hey, if that’s what it takes to see a live game, that’s fantastic,” Hoff said.

And despite the pandemic precautions, one constant is the Philly sports pride that can’t be rivaled.

“We had the most home wins in the league last year at the time of the shutdown and we have the best fans in the league and that’s not a coincidence,” Shane said. “The fans here bring an energy and you’ve heard the players talk about it all week. They cannot wait to get the fans back in here. It’s going to be a special night and a special second half of the year. We’re looking forward to it.”

And these fans hope to pick up right where they left off.

The Flyers have three more home games this week and you can sign up on the Flyers’ website to be put on the ticket waitlist. Tickets will be randomly drawn.

The first Sixers’ home game with fans is March 14.

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CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.