Spectrum (arena)

Coordinates: 39°54′15″N 75°10′16″W / 39.90417°N 75.17111°W / 39.90417; -75.17111
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Spectrum
"America's Showplace"
"Broad Street"
Wachovia Spectrum
The Spectrum, then named the Wachovia Spectrum, in 2008
Former names
  • Spectrum (1967–1994)
  • CoreStates Spectrum (1994–1998)
  • First Union Spectrum (1998–2003)
  • Wachovia Spectrum (2003–2009)
Address3601 South Broad Street, South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
LocationPhiladelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Coordinates39°54′15″N 75°10′16″W / 39.90417°N 75.17111°W / 39.90417; -75.17111
OwnerComcast Spectacor, L.P.
OperatorGlobal Spectrum
*End stage: 18,369
*Center stage: 19,456
*Theater: 5,000–8,000
Basketball: 18,168
Ice Hockey: 17,380
Broke groundJune 1, 1966[1]
OpenedSeptember 30, 1967
ClosedOctober 31, 2009
DemolishedNovember 23, 2010 – May 2011
ArchitectSkidmore, Owings & Merrill
General contractorMcCloskey & Company, Inc.
Philadelphia Flyers (NHL) (1967–1996)
Philadelphia 76ers (NBA) (1967–1996, 2009)
Philadelphia Freedoms (WTT) (1974)
Philadelphia Wings (NLL) (1974–1975)
Philadelphia Fever (MISL) (1978–1981)
Philadelphia Wings (NLL) (1987–1996)
Philadelphia Bulldogs (RHI) (1994–1996)
Philadelphia Phantoms (AHL) (1996–2004, 2005–2009)
Philadelphia KiXX (NPSL/MISL/NISL) (1996–2009)
La Salle Explorers (NCAA) (1996–1998)
Philadelphia Soul (AFL) (2004–2008) (select games)

The Spectrum (later known as CoreStates Spectrum, First Union Spectrum and Wachovia Spectrum) was an indoor arena in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The arena opened in September 1967 as part of what is now known as the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. After several expansions of its seating capacity, it accommodated 18,168 for basketball and 17,380 for ice hockey, arena football, indoor soccer, and box lacrosse.

The final event at the Spectrum was a Pearl Jam concert on October 31, 2009.[2] The arena was demolished between November 2010 and May 2011.


Opened as the Spectrum in September 1967, Philadelphia's first modern indoor sports arena was built to be the home of the expansion Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL, and also to accommodate the existing Philadelphia 76ers of the NBA. The building was the second major sports facility built at the south end of Broad Street in an area previously known as East League Island Park and now referred to simply as the South Philadelphia Sports Complex.

Early years[edit]

Ground was broken on the arena on June 1, 1966, by Jerry Wolman and then-Philadelphia Mayor James Tate as the home of the NHL's expansion Philadelphia Flyers.[1] The first event at the arena was the Quaker City Jazz Festival on September 30, 1967,[3] produced by Larry Magid.[4]

The first sporting event at the arena was an October 17, 1967 boxing match featuring Joe Frazier vs. Tony Doyle.[5] From 1967 through 1972, fifteen fight cards were held at the Spectrum. The NBA's 76ers also moved there from Convention Hall as a second major league sports tenant. Lou Scheinfeld, former President of the Spectrum, explained that the name "Spectrum" was selected to evoke the broad range of events to be held there: "The 'SP' for 'sports' and 'South Philadelphia', 'E' for 'entertainment', 'C' for 'circuses', 'T' for 'theatricals', 'R' for 'recreation', and 'UM' as 'um, what a nice building!'" Scheinfeld also said that a seat in the city's first superbox initially cost $1,000 a year: "For every Flyers game, Sixers game, circus, you name it, you got 250 events for $1,000."[6] The Flyers won their first ever home game in this arena by defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins, 1–0. Bill Sutherland scored the arena's first goal.

On March 1, 1968, wind blew part of the covering off the Spectrum's roof during a performance of the Ice Capades, forcing the building to close for a month while Mayor Tate fought with then-Philadelphia County District Attorney Arlen Specter over responsibility for the construction of the roof, and the damage was repaired.[7] The 76ers moved their home games to Convention Hall and to the Palestra, but neither of those arenas had ice rinks at the time, and there were no other NHL-quality sites in the Philadelphia area. The Flyers hurriedly moved their next home game against the Oakland Seals to Madison Square Garden in New York followed by a meeting with the Boston Bruins played at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto before establishing a base at Le Colisée in Quebec City, home of their top minor league team, the AHL Quebec Aces, for the remainder of their regular season, marking the first NHL games in Quebec City in over four decades, and years before the Quebec Nordiques joined the NHL. The roof was repaired in time to permit the Flyers to return to the Spectrum to open their first Stanley Cup playoffs against the St. Louis Blues on April 4, 1968; the opening faceoff came just as the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. was transpiring in Memphis, Tennessee.[8] Similarly, in 1993, the Flyers played a day game against the Los Angeles Kings during a blizzard. A piece of flying debris smashed out one of the concourse windows, cancelling the game just after the first period.

In the 1970s, the venue's location near Broad Street and the reputation for fisticuffs that the Flyers had developed led to the nickname "Broad Street Bullies".

In 1976, the local pay television service PRISM (so-named in part as you could see "the spectrum" via a prism) was launched by Spectacor, carrying home games of the Flyers and 76ers (as well as the Phillies); PRISM's technical and studio operations were based out of the event level of the Spectrum (though PRISM's administrative offices were instead located in Bala Cynwyd). PRISM's successor, NBC Sports Philadelphia, is based out of the present-day Wells Fargo Center in a similar arrangement.

A plaque inside The Spectrum stated that it held the world record for the fastest conversion from Hockey to Basketball.

The Spectrum, along with the Met Center and The Forum, was one of the first sports arenas to have a scoreboard with a messageboard. Furthermore, the messageboards on the Spectrum scoreboard were the first dot matrix screens in pro hockey or basketball, capable of photos, animation, and replays as well as messages. This was replaced in 1986 with ArenaVision, which consisted of six 9-by-12-foot (2.7 by 3.7 m) rear-projection videoscreens at the top and a four-sided American Sign and Indicator scoreboard at the bottom. Inside the videoscreens were General Electric projectors located 15 feet (4.6 m) away from each screen.[9]

Seating capacity[edit]

Flyers and 76ers' championships and All-Star Games hosted[edit]

The Spectrum's ice rink

The Flyers won their first Stanley Cup at the Spectrum on May 19, 1974, defeating the Boston Bruins, 1–0, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals in front of a then-capacity crowd of 17,007. Perhaps the most important and emotional hockey game—or sporting event of any kind—ever held there, however, came at the height of the Cold War on January 11, 1976, when the Flyers became the first NHL team to defeat (by 4–1) the vaunted hockey team of the Soviet Central Red Army (ЦСКА). [1] Two games in the inaugural Canada Cup hockey tournament were also held at the Spectrum in September of that year, as the U.S. took on Czechoslovakia and the USSR.

Ten NHL or NBA playoff championship series were hosted at the Spectrum. The Flyers competed in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1985, and 1987. The 76ers played in the NBA Finals in 1977, 1980, 1982, and 1983. The 1976 and 1992 NHL, and 1970 and 1976 NBA All-Star Games were also held here. The AHL Phantoms also won their first Calder Cup title on Spectrum ice before a sellout crowd of 17,380 on June 10, 1998, by defeating the Saint John Flames, 6–1.

The only visitors to win the Stanley Cup and NBA championship at the Spectrum were the Montreal Canadiens (1976) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1980) respectively.

The Spectrum is the only venue to host the NBA and NHL All-Star Games in the same season, doing so in 1976, when it also hosted that year's Final Four. It is also one of a handful of venues to host the Stanley Cup and NBA Finals at the same time, doing so in 1980 (all four major Philadelphia teams would reach the championship round of their respective sport in 1980).

College basketball tournaments[edit]

The Spectrum was used for many basketball tournaments, including Big Five games, eight Atlantic 10 Conference tournaments (1977, 1983, 1997–2002), the 1975, 1980 and 1992 NCAA East Regional (site of the famous last-second shot by Christian Laettner of Duke to beat Kentucky), and the 1976 and 1981 Final Fours (both won by Bob Knight's Indiana Hoosiers). Smaller conferences preferred holding tournament games at this venue over the larger Center nearby.

Bull riding[edit]

In 2003 and 2004, the PBR brought their Built Ford Tough Series tour to the Spectrum.

Notable concerts[edit]

Billboard ad for the arena in 1974

Many concerts were staged at the Spectrum, often praised for its acoustic properties, beginning in the 1960s. In the 1970s, Electric Factory Concerts became the prominent concert promoter for the facility.[31]

Philadelphia soul groups that performed at the Spectrum include LaBelle in '71 and Hall & Oates in '83. The O'Jays (they were signed to Philadelphia International) performed there in '73, and Lou Rawls (also signed to Philly International) performed there in '69. Boyz II Men from Philly performed there in '95.

Guns N' Roses performed at the Philadelphia Spectrum on August 4, 1988; August 5, 1988; June 13, 1991; December 16, 1991; and December 17, 1991.[37]

Spectrum Theater[edit]

The Spectrum Theater was a venue for acts not big enough to fill the entire Spectrum arena. The stage was placed in the middle of the Spectrum floor, and the other half of the arena behind the stage was closed off with curtains, creating a theater-like environment. Some of the acts that played in this configuration included Frank Zappa in 1973, 1976 and 1977; David Bowie's Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974; The Kinks' Soap Opera Tour in May 1975, Bob Marley's Natty Dread Tour in 1975 and Kaya Tour in 1978; Bruce Springsteen in 1976; The Bee Gees in 1979; Peter Gabriel's tour in 1982; Howard Jones in 1985 and Julian Lennon with Chris Bliss on June 20, 1986.

The Flyers and 76ers' move[edit]

The 1995–96 NHL and NBA seasons were the final ones for the Flyers and the 76ers at the Spectrum. The 76ers' last game was a 112–92 loss to the Orlando Magic on April 19; on May 12, Eric Lindros scored the arena's final Flyers goal in the 2nd period, and Mike Hough of the Florida Panthers scored the arena's final official NHL goal in the 2nd overtime of Game 5 of the 1996 Eastern Conference semifinals, a 2–1 Flyers loss. Although both the Flyers and 76ers moved across the parking lot to the new and larger Wells Fargo Center (then CoreStates Center), the arena remained in place and was used by the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL, the Philadelphia KiXX of the NISL, the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League for Saturday home games, and a variety of other sporting events and concerts.

The Spectrum had relatively few luxury suites or other amenities common in newer arenas. Additionally, the arena's sight lines were cited as a concern. Some seats in both the hockey and basketball configurations (especially those added in the upper level over the years) had badly obstructed views. There was only one concourse for all three levels, making for somewhat cramped conditions whenever attendance was anywhere near capacity.[citation needed]

Final season[edit]

A special logo was used for the final season of the Spectrum's use, featuring the arena's original pre-1994 logo and nickname.

On July 14, 2008, Comcast Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider officially announced that the Spectrum would be shuttered and torn down to make way for Philly Live!, a proposed retail, dining and entertainment hub. "This has been one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make," said Snider. "The Spectrum is my baby. It's one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me."

The Phantoms commemorated the final season of the Spectrum by wearing a special patch on their uniforms, as illustrated on the right. The team also celebrated some of the building's memorable moments throughout the season. The Flyers marked the last season by playing two pre-season games at the Spectrum. They played the Carolina Hurricanes in an NHL pre-season game on September 27, 2008, and the Phantoms on October 7 of that same year. Before the game against Carolina, the Flyers honored the team captains in the franchise's history. Those honored in the pre-game ceremony were Lou Angotti, Ed Van Impe, Bob Clarke, Mel Bridgman, Bill Barber, Dave Poulin, Ron Sutter, Kevin Dineen, Éric Desjardins, Keith Primeau and Derian Hatcher.[38]

Wachovia Spectrum during demolition in 2010.

The last NCAA basketball game the Spectrum hosted saw the Villanova Wildcats defeat the Pittsburgh Panthers on January 28, 2009.[39] The Sixers played one regular season game against Chicago Bulls on March 13, 2009, winning by a score of 104–101 in the final NBA game in the Spectrum.[40][41] The game was sold-out and attendance was 17,563.[40][42]

Banners for the final regular season hockey game at the Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA, on April 10, 2009. (Philadelphia Phantoms vs. Hershey Bears, 5–2).

The Phantoms' last regular season game at the Spectrum was played April 10, 2009, against the Hershey Bears, as the Phantoms won the game, 5–2, while the last Kixx game was against the Massachusetts Twisters on March 22. The Kixx moved onto the Temple University campus and played the 2009–10 season at the Liacouras Center. The Phantoms were sold to a Pittsburgh-based ownership group, and moved to Glens Falls, New York, for the 2009–10 season, and subsequently moved to Allentown, where they became the Flyers-affiliated Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

"With this season being the final season of the Wachovia Spectrum, we will celebrate the history of the Spectrum with an exciting, year-long, celebration of events," Comcast Spectacor President Peter Luukko said. Phish was rumored to be among the acts to commemorate the closing of the arena. "It is our hope and intent to bring back many of the musical acts and entertainers who have made the Spectrum 'America's Showplace.'" Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band played two shows at The Spectrum on April 28 and 29 as part of their Working on a Dream Tour, and returned on October 13–14 and 19–20 for their Spectrum swan song. Springsteen debuted a specially-written version of the song "Wrecking Ball", which he had written in honor of the demolition of Giants Stadium, with revised lyrics to honor the Spectrum.

A scheduled concert with Leonard Cohen on October 22 was moved to the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby, instead. On October 23, 2009, Philadelphia area musicians The Hooters, Todd Rundgren and Hall & Oates headlined a concert titled "Last Call".[43] Tickets were as low as $6.00. The remaining members of the Grateful Dead; including Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann performed their final set of shows at the Spectrum on May 1 and 2, 2009; the show of May 2 was their 54th consecutive sell-out at the Spectrum. The Dead closed the show of May 2 with the song "Samson and Delilah". The song contains the fitting refrain "If I had my way, I would tear this old building down." The lyric was changed by the band's singer Bob Weir to say "I wouldn't tear this old building down." With the demolition of The Spectrum, all venues at which The Grateful Dead played through their career within the City of Philadelphia, except for the Irvine Auditorium, have succumbed to the wrecking ball.

On October 27, 28, 30, and 31, American rock band Pearl Jam played over one hundred unique songs across the four days. On the final night, the band played 34 songs over nearly four hours before ending with their hit "Yellow Ledbetter".

The Spectrum and the South Philadelphia Sports Complex[edit]

An 2008 aerial view of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex with the Spectrum at center left

Opened in 1967 as the first of the five modern facilities to be built at the South Philadelphia Sports Complex between 1967 and 2004, by the time it closed in 2009 the Spectrum was the oldest of the four venues still standing of the two indoor arenas and four outdoor stadiums built at the South end of Broad Street since 1926. The complex's total area expanded with the addition of each new facility and now takes up the entire southeast quadrant of the grounds occupied in 1926 by Philadelphia's Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition, a massive 184-day World's fair built on 700+ acres of until then largely undeveloped city-owned swamp and park land, including League Island Park adjacent to the U.S. Navy Yard bounded by 10th Street, Packer Ave., 23rd Street, and Terminal Avenue. The Spectrum itself occupied the portion of the Exposition's grounds on the south side of Pattison Avenue between Broad and 11th Streets that in 1926 served as the fair's main trolley terminal operated by the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company.[44]

The Spectrum, with John F. Kennedy Stadium above it and Veterans Stadium below it

For its first 25 years, the Spectrum overlooked the 102,000-seat John F. Kennedy Stadium, known prior to 1964 as "Municipal Stadium", located roughly 600 feet (180 m) south of the indoor arena. Opened on April 15, 1926, the stadium was also the Sesqui-Centennial Exposition's only intentionally permanent facility.[45] The site of 42 Army–Navy Games between 1936 and 1979, JFK Stadium eventually fell into disuse in favor of the newer nearby Veterans Stadium, was condemned in 1989, and demolished in 1992 to make way for the Wells Fargo Center which opened four years later in August 1996. Known earlier as the "CoreStates Center" (1996–1998), the "First Union Center" (1998–2003), and the "Wachovia Center" (July 2003 – June 2010), the 20,000-plus-seat indoor arena replaced the Spectrum as the home of the Flyers, 76ers, and Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League beginning with each club's 1996–97 season. With the demolition of the Spectrum, the Wells Fargo Center has now become the oldest of the complex's three current venues.

The Spectrum's closest sports complex neighbor was Veterans Stadium (opened 1971, closed 2003, demolished 2004), which was located north of the arena directly across Pattison Avenue. The 60,000-plus-seat "Vet" accommodated MLB's Philadelphia Phillies and the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles for just over three decades before it was itself replaced by two new facilities. In 2003 the Eagles moved to Lincoln Financial Field, a purpose built football/soccer stadium located SE of the Spectrum site directly across 11th Street from the Wells Fargo Center. The following year, the Phillies relocated to Citizens Bank Park, a dedicated baseball stadium completed in 2004 and located diagonally across from the Spectrum site at the northeast corner of Pattison Ave and Citizens Bank Way (11th St.), immediately east of the former Veterans Stadium site which now serves as a parking lot for the entire complex. In 2017, the Phillies' spring training complex in Clearwater, Florida was renamed Spectrum Field after Bright House Networks was purchased by Charter Communications. While named for Charter's residential service, the name invoked memories of the Spectrum arena.[46]

Another NBA arena (Spectrum Center, the home of the Charlotte Hornets) currently includes "Spectrum" in its name, although again it refers to the Charter residential service whose naming rights are attached to that building.

The Spectrum (center) was the oldest (1967) of the four venues which made up the South Philadelphia Sports Complex in this 2004 view from the Wells Fargo Center (1996). Citizens Bank Park (right) is the complex's newest (2004) facility while Lincoln Financial Field (2003) is just out of view to the far right.


Although the Spectrum formally closed on October 31, 2009, demolition of the structure did not begin for more than a year with internal work commencing on November 8, 2010.[47] Two weeks later a public "wrecking ball ceremony" attended by some of the athletes who made the building famous such as Hockey Hall of Famers Bernie Parent and Bob Clarke of the Flyers and Hall of Famer Julius Erving of the 76ers, was held in the adjacent parking lot "H" on November 23, 2010, to formally begin its external demolition.[48] However, unlike Veterans Stadium, its one-time neighbor, which had been located immediately across Pattison Avenue from the Spectrum before it was imploded on March 21, 2004, the almost half-year process of demolishing the then-44-year-old arena, done without the use of explosives, was completed in May 2011. This was done to protect its other sports facilities from dust. Water was used to prevent dust from spreading.

Composite before, during and after image of the Spectrum site. The top image was taken in April 2004, five and a half years before the arena was closed. The middle image was taken seven years later as its demolition was being completed in April 2011. The white areas seen at ground level of this image were the back walls of the hockey and basketball locker rooms used by the Flyers, 76ers, Phantoms, Kixx, and Wings and visiting teams. The parking lot across Pattison Avenue from the Spectrum was the former site of Veterans Stadium (demolished in 2004). The bottom image is how the site appeared in September 2011 after it had been converted to a parking lot. All three images were taken from the same location in the Wells Fargo Center, the arena that replaced the Spectrum. The tallest building visible in the distant Philadelphia skyline (just to the left of the Spectrum site) in the 2011 images is the 59-story Comcast Center (completed in 2008), the headquarters building of the Comcast Corporation which owns both the Spectrum and Wells Fargo Center.

A 300-room hotel is planned to eventually be built on the demolished Spectrum's site, which is now occupied by a parking lot, as an adjunct to the Xfinity Live! project, the first portion of which opened in April 2012, at the southwest corner of 11th Street and Pattison Avenue.[49][50]


A statue of Sylvester Stallone, depicted in his role of Philadelphia boxer Rocky Balboa, stood for many years in front of the main Pattison Avenue entrance of the Spectrum, which had been represented in the movie as the site of Rocky's first and second fights with Apollo Creed. (The fight sequences were actually filmed at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena.) The statue was removed several times over the years to be used in the filming of sequels to the original film.

In September 2006, it was given a new home in an area near the base of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art not far from where a spot on the plaza at the top of the Museum's steps where it had appeared in the film Rocky III. Since the statue was not deemed "art,"[citation needed] it was moved around the corner of the museum on Kelly Drive. Other statues that stood in the arena area included:

The statues have been incorporated into the design of Xfinity Live!.[51]

Former tenants[edit]



Notable events[edit]




  • NPSL Championship – 2001
  • MISL Championship – 2002



Fictional events[edit]

Other events[edit]

  • U.S. Figure Skating Championships – 1968
  • MILL Championship – 1989, 1992, 1995
  • Nightmares Xtreme Scream Park – 2004,[54] 2005, 2006
  • Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church Resurrection Sunday Worship Service 2000
  • Monster Jam ???–2009


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  54. ^ "Nightmares On Broad Street Adds Performances". comcast-spectacor.com. October 29, 2004. Archived from the original on December 11, 2004. Retrieved December 18, 2023.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Philadelphia Flyers

Succeeded by
Preceded by Home of the
Philadelphia 76ers

Succeeded by
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Philadelphia Phantoms

Succeeded by
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Philadelphia Kixx

Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of the
NHL All-Star Game

Succeeded by
Preceded by FIBA Intercontinental Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by
Preceded by Fed Cup
Final Venue

Succeeded by