It’s just a building right? Millions of people come and go through Philadelphia every day without realizing that it’s there. Sure America’s Showplace has events every now and then, but people still line up for tickets to see the Phantoms play. Maybe they even take in a Kixx game. Still, how often do we head to a Phillies, Eagles, Sixers, or Flyers game walking right by the Wachovia Spectrum without so much as a second glance? It’s a feature of the Sports Complex landscape like the rising presence of the Vet which may not have been the most beautiful building in the world but carried us through decades of Eagles and Phillies games. When that was torn down we all mourned as if our world had changed forever. We watched it collapse on TV, bought souvenirs, told our friends and family where we were sitting when Dawkins made that crushing hit or Scott Rolen knocked one further than you can imagine walking as a little kid taking at your first Phillies game. This is just my young generation though. Countless memories were made there before I was born as well. The only keepsakes we have left of the Vet are the tiny pieces of rubble we were sold or stole, the video clips of the amazing things that happened there, and the images that float around in our heads from time to time. So what will it be like when the Spectrum is finally brought down to the rest us this summer? Over 40 years it stood there. It’s seen more things than any one person could take in during a lifetime of Philadelphia sportsfan-ship.
The statues outside ranging from the one of Dorny’s incredible goal in the 1973 playoffs, the Flyers secret weapon who still sends chills through spectators standing for “Good Bless America” when appearing on the screen at the Wach, Julius Irving, and the one of Rocky which has been moved to the Philadelphia Museum of Art since are some of the most amazing in the entire city. They tell of the history of Philadelphia more than any building or skyscraper could. Some of the most incredible sports stories came to light right there in the complex with the Spectrum playing a major part. So how could we possibly just move on? Inside is the Phantoms hall of fame as well with a detailed past of some of the greatest players ever to wear a Flyers uniform. Remember when Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Randy Jones, and a team of some of the leagues most important players including Patrick Sharp now of the Chicago Blackhawks, RJ Umberger now of the Columbus Blue Jackets, along with Joni Pitkanen and Dennis Seidenberg both now of the Carolina Hurricanes won the Calder Cup right there in the Spectrum?
Oh yeah, ladies and gentlemen. I can even do you one better. Ever seen this?
For all of our heartache and bitter failure there is always something else; something that’s been with us the entire time. The Spectrum has shared all of our memories with us. It has been there through the good and the bad. It will not likely get as much coverage as Veteran’s Stadium because we don’t associate it with the Flyers or Sixers anymore, but this is a place that deserves our love, admiration, and thanks for over 40 years of Philadelphia sports history. The clock is ticking down. The Phantoms have only 8 games left.
So what were you doing this whole time? Have you ever been to the Spectrum? Have you touched the Dorny statue and relived the Flyers’ Stanley Cups? Have you walked the halls where they cheered for the Sixers as they won their championship in 1983? Did you see where the Boss stood in the center of a sell-out crowd, like he has many times, and sang as the crowd drowned him out? If you haven’t seen the Spectrum then you have missed out on more Philadelphia history than you could possibly imagine.
So when the Spectrum leaves us what is going to be erected in its place? They’re calling the project “Philly Live”. By now I’m sure everyone has heard about it. Plans for a huge entertainment strip along with bars, restaurants, and maybe even a hotel have been announced. It’s going to be a spectacular place in the heart of the Philadelphia sports complex. One day we’ll all go there and walk into a bar, grab a drink, and remember what used to be in its place. My biggest hope is that those same statues that adorn the outside of the Spectrum will be kept as a reminder of the history that happened right there on the ground beneath the feet of people as they hustle about. Nobody knows what will happen when the Spectrum is torn down, but if they don’t put up a plaque or leave the statues where they are they will still never be able to take our memories.
I’m proud to say that I’ve touched the Dorny statue. I’ve walked the halls and gotten an expensive hot dog where they ran and shouted as the Flyers hoisted the Stanley Cup. That is sacred ground. I wasn’t alive for it, but every time I walk into the Spectrum I become a part of it.
So I ask you all. Are you a part of it? Are you what makes up Philadelphia history? Our history? Go take in a game before it’s too late. I promise you won’t regret it.