The Spectrum signs off

After four sold-out Pearl Jam shows the last week of October, the legendary building that served as the site of championships and concerts over the years, closed its doors.

After four sold-out Pearl Jam shows the last week of October, the legendary building that served as the site of championships and concerts over the years, closed its doors.

Beer cost a dime at the concession stand.

KEVIN COOK TTN Pearl Jam closed out the legendary Wachovia Spectrum with four sold out shows. The Grateful Dead hold the record for the most performances at the arena with 53 total shows.

A slice of pizza cost a quarter, a roast beef sandwich just 75 cents, and a 12-ounce soda – the largest size available – cost a quarter. These were just some of the items on the Wachovia Spectrum’s (then simply named the Spectrum) menu in September 1967.

The Spectrum, which opened Sep. 30, 1967 with the two-day Quaker City Jazz Festival, closed its doors Oct. 31 after a four-show concert series by Pearl Jam. The arena’s closing signals the end of an incredible era and marks, or at least Comcast-Spectacor and The Cordish Company would hope, the beginning of a new era.

Demolition of the Spectrum is set for this spring and in its place will be Philly Live!, a Main Street-style concourse that will connect Citizens Bank Park and the Wachovia Center and will be lined with shops, bars and restaurants.

“Our vision when we built the Wachovia Center was to create the ultimate sports destination. Philly Live! is the dining and retail entertainment component of that vision. And, Philly Live! will not be limited to the sports and entertainment goers. This property will be open to everyone, every day, whether they are attending an event or not,” Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider said in a press release.

Since the opening of the Spectrum, it has seen three name changes, countless concerts and been home to a number of Philadelphia sports teams. The Spectrum, built to bring ice hockey to Philadelphia, was home to both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers until 1996 when the Wachovia Center opened.

Both teams participated in total of 10 playoff games at the Spectrum. The arena was home to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1974, 1975, 1976, 1980, 1985 and 1987. The NBA Finals were at the Spectrum in 1977, 1980, 1982 and 1983.

One of the greatest sports moments at the Spectrum came in May 1974 when the Flyers competed against the Boston Bruins in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals and defeated the opposition, 1 – 0. Fans in attendance were over the walls and on the ice before time had even run out.

In 1996, when the Wachovia Center opened, both the Flyers and the Sixers moved to the larger space to accommodate more fans and give everyone the best seat in the house, where the Spectrum’s single concourse was tight when the stadium neared capacity and some seats had serious obstruction issues.
This move meant other teams could now play at the Spectrum.

The Philadelphia Phantoms, part of the American Hockey League, played at the Spectrum from 1996 until the arena closed just more than a week ago. For the same time period, the Spectrum was home to the Philadelphia KiXX, part of the Major Indoor Soccer League. The KiXX will call Temple’s Liacouras Center home starting with the 2009-2010 season. The first game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 9, against the Rockford Rampage.

Notably, the arena was home to the Philadelphia Freedoms tennis team for just one year in 1974.
Villanova University’s basketball team, the Wildcats, played games at the Spectrum, as well.

The Philadelphia Soul, a team in the Arena Football League, played select home games at the Spectrum from 2004 to 2008. Coincidently, Philadelphia Soul owner Jon Bon Jovi’s band Bon Jovi had played 12 shows in the arena. Bon Jovi’s first Spectrum show was Jun. 1, 1984. The band’s last concert there was Aug. 6, 1993.

The Grateful Dead performed at the Spectrum a record 53 times, by far the most concerts any single band played there. Billy Joel played 25 shows in the arena; Aerosmith played 22 shows; Neil Diamond and Elton John played 18 shows each; the Beach Boys and Chicago, 16 each; AC/DC and Black Sabbath, 13 each; and David Bowie played 12 shows.

Other bands and musicians who played at the stadium include: Dave Matthews Band, Bob Dylan, Eminem, Fall Out Boy, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Idol, the Jackson 5, Janet Jackson, LL Cool J, Linkin Park, Marilyn Manson, Maroon 5, Tim McGraw, Menudo, Motley Crüe, Elvis and Queen Latifah.

The Doors played a 95-minute show on May 1, 1970 that was later released as the recording The Doors Live in Philadelphia ’70.

The Spectrum is a monument to millions of historical moments and memories to which Philadelphians cling. One look at confirms the connection citizens feel to the stadium.

Now Comcast-Spectacor, the very company that owns the Spectrum and started the Web site to commemorate the space, is moving on.

The organization has partnered with the Cornish Company and architect Megan N. DiNicola to make Philly Live! a reality. The complex will include an upscale 300-room hotel and a two-story entertainment space with roof and climate-control.

The space is meant and expected to invigorate the South Philadelphia Sports Complex and to bring a stream of visitors not necessarily attending sporting or entertainment events.

“Philly Live! is going to truly be the ultimate sports and entertainment destination for our fans,” Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko said in a press release. “Our fans are going to love coming down early and staying later or even coming down to Philly Live! whether they are attending an event or not.”

Rosella Eleanor LaFevre can be reached at


  1. Rosella- Nice article. For someone who grew up in Northeast Philly in the ’60’s and 70’s, a trip to the Spectrum in South Philly was like a trip to Mars- it seemed so far away. Over the years, the building became as familiar as a friendly neighbor. My favorite memory is taking my Dad to his first hockey game in 1969- he was hooked before the end of the first period. We still go a game or two each year but the Spectrum will always be a part of my growing up in Philly and among my finest, best memories. P.S.- I would add a few performers who played at the Spectrum over the years: Frank Sinatra (whose 1984 and 1986 shows I attended) and Elvis Presley (who I did not see perform). Last, but not least, a Philly-born icon named Wilt Chamberlain, who I saw play at the Spectrum as a 76er (I cheered) and as a Laker (I cried).

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