The Philadelphia Flyers NHL ice hockey franchise has announced plans for frontline workers to attend games at Wells Fargo Center, while the owner of rival team the Ottawa Senators has backtracked on a proposal to allow 6,000 fans at the Canadian Tire Centre.

The Flyers have teamed up with BELFOR Property Restoration on an initiative that will allow frontline workers and their immediate family to attend games during the 2020-21 season as part of a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers will not be allowing general fan admission due to COVID-19 but will instead look to recognise the efforts of key workers. Fans will be able to watch the Flyers from seats built on a custom platform located safely behind the team bench and adjacent to the performance stage of team mascot Gritty.

The programme will run throughout the entire season, including when general fan admission is permitted again at Wells Fargo Center.

Valerie Camillo, president of business operations for the Flyers and Wells Fargo Center, said: “Essential and frontline workers throughout the Philadelphia region are sacrificing so much for our community, so we’re thrilled to create a truly unique experience for these local heroes at each Flyers home game this season.

“Even though we can’t yet welcome fans into the arena, we’re excited that we are able to host one frontline family at each home game to see live NHL action like never before.”

The first key workers to take part in the initiative were Amanda and Josh Hatheway, who attended yesterday’s (Wednesday’s) season-opening 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Amanda is a nurse at St Mary’s Medical Center and Josh is an EMT and clinical lead for the hospital’s emergency room technicians.

The Flyers will honour each family as part of the pre-game ceremonies with a stick raise from the team and recognition during the television broadcast. Honorees will also receive a commemorative plaque from their game and a digital copy of their recognition on NBC Sports Philadelphia.

In other news, Senators owner Eugene Melnyk has moved to clarify comments he made over potential fan attendance at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Melnyk had said that he had submitted a plan that would allow up to 6,000 fans at the arena for Senators games this season. Melnyk made the announcement in a since-deleted tweet, which was posted shortly before Ontario announced stricter COVID-19 guidelines and a provincial emergency.

Melnyk has now backtracked on the comments and clarified that the Senators must do their part to control the virus before allowing fans back at the Canadian Tire Centre.

Melnyk said: “We will continue to work with all levels of government to fight the spread and adhere to the provincial government’s new measures. For the first time since I became owner of the Senators, my family and I will not be attending opening night. Like thousands of others, we will be watching and cheering the game from home.

“When the day comes that we can allow fans back to games in a safe way, you can rest assured that our organisation will be ready.”

The Senators were given the green light to play home games at the Canadian Tire Centre by the Ontario provincial government earlier this month.

Image: SamHolt6/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size