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through the Pandemic!
Stiff Competition for
Philly Sports Fans
ports amid the pandemic became
a whole different sort of spectacle,
especially when it came to
spectators - often with zero, sometimes
with some, many highly resistant to
bending! Due to the contagiousness and
dangers of the coronavirus, screams and
chants, applause and cheering by tens of
thousands in the stands, were replaced
at cavernous venues by fake sounds
simulating cheering or celebration.
Athletes, so accustomed to being
fueled by on-site energy and support,
needed to adapt and rely on their inner
voices. TV viewers could not always tell
the difference between what was real and
what was artifice. Broadcasters tried to
keep viewers engaged.
The 2020 Phillies' biggest hit
may have been those cardboard
cutouts in the stands!
The Phillies and other major-league
teams were looking for a way to make TV
broadcasts more appealing, so they did.
Colorful, whimsical, and undoubtedly
sentimental, the 10,000 photographs that
filled most of the ballpark's lower bowl
and spots in the upper, added a welcome
dimension to what otherwise would
have been a cold and dismal baseball
Enlisted to provide a visual and
spiritual boost to Phillies telecasts during
a pandemic that shut out live fans, the
cardboard-cutout crowd that silently
inhabited Citizens Bank Park had, unlike
the team itself, exceeded expectations in
" Faux fans " made difficult
circumstances a little more
palatable in 2020 ... In conjunction
with Hispanic Heritage Month, cutouts
were installed to honor former Latin
stars like Tony Taylor, Manny Trillo, and
Carlos Ruiz. There were former Phillies
stars, broadcasters, and executives in
the " crowd " of those highly resistant
to bending! The world-champion 1980
Phillies observed from an outfield upper
deck. Ben Franklin sat in a prominent
spot, as did Connie Mack and Walt
The cutouts were more than seatfillers.
They helped to celebrate
promotions like those honoring the 100th
anniversary of the Negro Leagues or
Childhood Cancer Awareness Night.
Their two world-champion general
managers, Pat Gillick and Paul Owens,
sat next to each other. Bob Uecker had a
familiar spot in the last row. Ryan Howard
rested in right-field's upper deck, at the
spot one of his longest home runs landed.
Larry Bowa and Charlie Manuel were
placed side-by-side.
Almost none of this could have
been anticipated this past spring when
Phillies marketing officials, desperate
to compensate for an empty ballpark,
stumbled on the concept. The idea was
born with a German soccer fan who,
in March, unable to attend his favorite
Bundesliga team's games, sent in a
cardboard photo of himself to be placed in
the stands. He then set up a website that
allowed others to do the same.
The Phillies subsequently contracted
with a Seattle tech firm to establish a
website, then solicited participants. Fans
were charged $40 per cutout, $25 if they
were season-ticket holders. The proceeds
benefitted Phillies-related charities.
Photos submitted by the fans were
transformed into 18-inch-by-36 inch
cardboard cutouts by a Philadelphia
printer, Color Reflections. The first batch,
doctors and nurses who worked with
COVID patients, appeared during the
season's first week. Soon the vanity and
whimsy that initially drove the public's
interest gave way to sentiment and
And here we closed the season with
a creative victory during a pandemic that
will not show up on any scoreboard, but
certainly, will forever live in the hearts of
our very " phanatical " Phillies fans!
Fans are " loosening up "
in 2021!
March. Event Capacity
Increased, Fans are Returning to
Sports! The city's capacity limits now
match the state's, meaning fans can see
the Phillies, Flyers, and Sixers in person
and the increased capacities are cause for
celebration among Philly sports fans.
The health department is working with
Citizens Bank Park and the Wells Fargo
Center on their health safety protocols
for welcoming fans back to games. Wells
Fargo Center will initially be able to host
approximately 3,100 fans for Flyers and
76ers games. As for Citizens Bank park,
the new guidelines would allow 8,800
fans in the stadium for the first 19 regular
season home games.
The NFL 2020 season culminated
with about 22,000 people, roughly a
third of stadium capacity, at Super Bowl
LV on February 7, 2021, at Raymond
James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, the
home stadium of the Buccaneers. While
it was the least attended Superbowl due
to COVID-19 restrictions, it marked
the first time that a team played a Super
Bowl in its home stadium in Florida. The
" GOAT " v. " The Kid " ... NFC champion
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the AFC
champion Kansas City Chiefs, 31 - 9. *
Spring 2021 | 27

Delco re:View Spring 2021

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