By CBS3 Staff

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A hopeful night on the road to recovery in South Philadelphia. On Sunday night, Sixers fans returned to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, and CBS3’s own Ukee Washington rang the bell before their 134-99 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Just over 3,000 fans were in the house on Sunday night. Last weekend, it was the Flyers, this weekend, Sixers fans were back in the stands.

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“We’re’ back,” one Sixers fan said.

The winds of change were blowing Sunday night in South Philly 368 days since Sixers fans were last allowed inside Wells Fargo Center.

“It feels great to be at a game for the first time in over a year,” Xander Orbin said.

For some, they were here when COVID shut down the NBA and soon all sports.

“We were walking out and turned the radio on and they said this was the last game of the season,” Joyce Wizda recalled, “and we were like what?”

Xander remembers the last time he walked through these gates.

“Feb. 9 on my birthday of 2020, Sixers vs. Bulls,” he said.

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And on Sunday, this now 10-year-old superfan did so once again with his teammate for life

“My dad, my best friend in the world,” he said.

Armed with hand sanitizer and masks, 3,000 fans — 15% of capacity — walked in hopeful to make new memories greeted with the familiar sounds of game night along with a few new ones — like health screenings and touchless ticketing.

“There’s a lot of things we’re getting used to,” Amin Kahlifa said.

Inside, fans are spread out six feet apart and with supply limited, seats aren’t cheap.

“We are sitting up at the top and I paid about $120 each,” Nina Skiles said.

But hey, you could be Mike. Tonight’s game may cost one Spurs fan, well, a lot.

“When the Sixers win, since [Joel] Embiid’s not playing, he said he would shave the beard,” Greg Britton said.

“I guess I have to now, it’s on TV,” Mike said.

A bet is a bet, and Mike said he’s going to shave his beard.

The Sixers are back home on Tuesday night.

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CBS3’s Alicia Roberts reports.