It's Official: The Spectrum is coming down
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - July 15, 2008 -- One more link to Philadelphia's championship history is destined for destruction.
The Spectrum, once home to title-winning 76ers and Flyers teams, will close in 2009 and be demolished to make way for an entertainment development, arena owner Comcast-Spectacor announced Tuesday.
"The Spectrum is my baby," Comcast-Spectacor chairman Ed Snider said. "But after a lot of thinking and discussions, we all feel it is in our best interest to close the Spectrum."
The arena, where the Flyers faced off against the Soviet Red Army team and Christian Laettner hit his last-second game-winner to beat Kentucky in the 1992 NCAA tournament, will close following the 2008-09 hockey and soccer seasons.
The Flyers were the only major Philadelphia team to clinch a title in the building, capturing the Stanley Cup in 1974 with a 1-0 victory over Boston.
"It's something we've been reluctant to do, but at this point, I think the building has seen its best days," Snider said in a video Comcast-Spectacor put up on a Spectrum tribute site, www.rememberthespectrum.com. "We'll have great memories from this building."
The demolition of the Spectrum will be part of a larger plan for a retail and entertainment development at the stadium complex, which is also the site of Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park. The project, dubbed Philly Live!, would include shops, bars and restaurants. The development would be located on the site of a parking lot that currently separates the Spectrum from the Wachovia Center. Preliminary plans showed a hotel where the Spectrum is currently located.
The Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League also play some home games at the Spectrum. Jon Bon Jovi, who co-owns the Soul and whose band played several concerts there, said the arena would be missed.
"It's a sad day," Bon Jovi said by phone. "It's a dark day in Philadelphia. It's a great piece of history."
Bon Jovi played 14 concerts at the Spectrum, according to a Comcast-Spectacor spokesman.
The Spectrum was the last building at the stadium complex that had been home to a title-winning major franchise. Philadelphia has not had a major professional team win a championship since the 76ers in 1983. Veterans Stadium, home to the 1980 World Series champion Phillies, was demolished in 2004.
The Flyers' minor league affiliate, the Phantoms, and an indoor soccer team, the Kixx, play at the Spectrum. Comcast-Spectacor is in negotiations to relocate the Phantoms to another facility in time for the start of the 2009-10 season.
The future of the Kixx is clouded by the fact that its league, the Major Indoor Soccer League, shut down in May. The league is trying to restart in a new form sometime before the 2008-09 season.
The Flyers and Sixers played in the Spectrum from its opening in 1967 until 1996, when they moved to the Wachovia Center.
The Spectrum hosted two NCAA Final Fours, in 1976 and 1981. Indiana won both times, giving Bobby Knight his first two titles. The arena has also been a popular concert venue, hosting acts ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Luciano Pavarotti.
"Some of my favorite (memories), some of my greatest, both as the owner of the Soul, as a performer, and even as a concert goer," were there, Bon Jovi said.
Comcast-Spectacor, a unit of cable giant Comcast Corp., owns the Flyers, 76ers, Phantoms, the Wachovia Center and the Wachovia Spectrum. It also runs arenas around the country and has food service, ticketing and advertising interests.
AP sports writer Dan Gelston contributed to this report.
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