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Flyers and Wells Fargo Center first in NHL to establish ‘zero-tolerance’ code of conduct for fans
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Flyers and Wells Fargo Center first in NHL to establish ‘zero-tolerance’ code of conduct for fans

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Devils Flyers Hockey

Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim, who on Saturday signed a two-year deal with an annual $4.675 million salary-cap hit, says he is looking forward to learning from the more experienced blue-liners the team has acquired this offseson.

Philadelphia Flyers president of business operations Valerie Camillo feels a responsibility to set the right culture and establish a welcoming environment at the Wells Fargo Center — and she hopes the behaviors she expects are universal.

Just in case they are not, she and the Wells Fargo Center staff have revamped the arena’s code of conduct to include a zero-tolerance policy for racial or other identity-based slurs, becoming the first in the NHL to do so.

“We’re not afraid to say we have standards in behavior,” Camillo said. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman praised the Flyers for leading the way leaguewide on this topic.

“As the world’s premier hockey league, the NHL has a responsibility to create a welcoming and inclusive environment at our games that sets both a standard and example for all,” Bettman said. “Our clubs play a vital role in developing effective policies and executing them. And I applaud the Philadelphia Flyers, the Wells Fargo Center, and EIC member Valerie Camillo, in particular, for being leaders in our shared mission to make the National Hockey League a place where all feel safe, comfortable and valued.”

Philadelphia is known as a tough environment for opposing teams to play in, Camillo said. While she and the rest of the Wells Fargo Center staff are very proud of the intense, passionate environment that creates a strong home-ice advantage, they never want that toughness to cross a line and turn into something that’s uncomfortable on an individual level for players, staff members or guests.

“None of this is going to change that (home-ice advantage) because we still want to hear the voice of Philadelphia, our informed, smart, intelligent fans who say the wittiest, most clever things,” Camillo said. “We want them to be loud. We want them to be engaged in our games. But none of the behavior we’re talking about enhances that.”

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The change has been driven by the event staff, the people who come face-to-face with the arena’s guests. Camillo said the change does not come from a rise in negative interactions in Philly but rather from the increasing difficulty customer service professionals have had with guests across the nation over the last two years.

When the staff members approached Camillo, their request resonated as something she wanted to focus on, she said. Camillo then asked staffers for their thoughts.

The first thing they asked for was to simply talk about the code of conduct more often. “It was fair for our workers to point out that we don’t really talk about it very much,” Camillo said.

Now, they will announce it before every event, post it on signs throughout the building, and include it in emails with guests. Together with the Wings and 76ers, who share the building, they created a video that will be played before every game, starting with the Flyers’ season opener Friday.

The conversations with the staff members, many of whom have worked at the arena for many years, also led to revamped training. Staff members will now be better equipped to identify situations before they escalate and to enforce the code of conduct. It’s important to Camillo that they feel comfortable doing their jobs since “they’re truly our frontline workers.”

The Wells Fargo Center is also attempting to make fans feel more comfortable reporting situations. If fans do not want to approach one of the event staff members, they can text 954-WFC-TEXT to report a situation.

Every situation will be decided on a case-by-case basis. While Camillo hopes that the improved communication helps prevent situations from happening by educating the guests, she also said arena officials reserve the right to ban guests temporarily or permanently.

The NHL Fan Inclusion Committee is interested in making a similar leaguewide code of conduct. It will look to the Flyers and Camillo for inspiration and guidance.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

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