The Philadelphia Kixx soccer team, left without a home venue after the Wachovia Spectrum closed its doors, relocated its turf to the Liacouras Center.
The Liacouras Center has seen a lot of exciting sports drama in its 12 years of operation, thanks largely to Temple’s men’s and women’s basketball programs.
But a new chapter in the Liacouras Center legacy began recently when the Major Indoor Soccer League’s Philadelphia Kixx played their inaugural home game there Jan. 9 against the Rockford, Ill. Rampage. They christened their new home that night with a 23-20 victory, and went on to beat Rockford again the following night in Illinois.
The Kixx’s move to North Broad Street began last summer when Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snyder announced that the Wachovia Spectrum, known for decades as “America’s Showplace,” would be demolished to make way for a shopping and entertainment complex called Philly Live.
The Spectrum was home to the Kixx as well as the American Hockey League’s Philadelphia Phantoms. When it closed, both teams were put out in the cold. The Phantoms moved to New York and became the Adirondack Phantoms, while the Kixx looked slightly less far north for a new place to play. They settled on the Liacouras Center, managed by Global Spectrum, a subsidiary of Comcast-Spectacor.
While the Liacouras Center is no Wachovia Spectrum, the building is carving out its own niche in North Philly. Since opening in 1998 as the Apollo of Temple, the 10,200-seat arena hosted big-name concerts by artists ranging from Bob Dylan to Patti LaBelle and Kanye West to Kelly Clarkson, as well as Temple athletic events.
The Liacouras Center also hosted U.S. gymnastic competitions and a game of Wheel of Fortune.
“I think it’s great,” senior education major Candice Roe said of the Liacouras Center hosting high-profile events in Temple’s backyard. “As long as it doesn’t cost Temple a bunch of money or add to tuition.”
Temple Associate Vice President of Business Services Richard Rumer is in charge of the day-to-day operations and overall management of certain areas of the university, including the Liacouras Center.
He said that the deal with the Kixx is a good thing for Temple and its community. The Kixx, he assured, pay rent like any other event would, and the eight additional games the team’s presence brings to the arena’s calendar translates to more jobs for students and local residents.
J.T. Noone, a former Temple soccer player who recently began spring training with the Philadelphia Union, the area’s first Major League Soccer team that will play in Chester, said in a phone interview that he thinks the move would be positive for Temple, but even better for the Kixx.
The Kixx’s move also presents Temple students with the opportunity to see fast-paced professional soccer at an arena across the street, while the trip to Chester to see the Philadelphia Union play is about a half hour by car.
Tickets for Kixx games generally cost about $20, but with students’ Owl Cards, admissions will be $9, Chief Financial Officer Darceé Roberts said.
Additionally, tickets stubs to games the Kixx win are redeemable for free burritos at Qdoba.
Some students, like Ankit Vaishya, said they are not sure what to expect.
“I’m a big soccer fan, and I’m used to watching professional Euro pean soccer,” Vaishya, a senior finance major, said. “I don’t know about this indoor stuff.”
An indoor soccer field is set up similar to a hockey rink, with “dasher boards” and Plexiglas separating the crowd from the field. The game is played in 15-minute quarters. With no out-of-bounds, play is fast-paced and more continuous than outdoor soccer. Teams can substitute players at any time, and like hockey, penalties can result in one team having a 2-minute power play. The most striking difference is the addition of multi-point goals. Shots made from different places on the field earn different amounts of points.
The next Kixx home game is Feb. 6 against the Milwaukee Wave.
Michael Polinsky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.