NBCPhiladelphia.com - Tim Furlong, J.R. Smith
The seemingly-never-ending goodbye to the Spectrum finally started coming to an end Tuesday when the first wrecking ball tried really, really hard to break the facade of the aged arena.
That part was pretty comical. It took about a minute of bashing before any real dust started to fall.
Dr. J came in for the occasion.
"It's a little overcast, because I guess it's a sad day," he said, eulogizing the stadium and highlighting his fondest memories of playing here.
A huge crowd gathered all morning long for the big event.
And on the eve of the demolition plenty of fans heading to the stadium complex for the Flyers game took a minute or two to snap a couple photos and reflect on memories of the arena dubbed “America’s Showplace.”
Edgar Linauts a Flyers fan from Limerick, Pa. summed up a big reason why the building will be missed.
“That’s where the Flyers won the cups -- on this side of the street.”
But the Spectrum was about more than just ice hockey. The Sixers took home a championship here in 1983, the circus came to town every year; there were monster truck rallies, boxing and indoor soccer.
The music, though, could be the hardest thing to replace. Musicians from the Grateful Dead to Luciano Pavarotti to Luther Vandross took the Spectrum stage.
And guess what? Even Elvis left this building.
“There was a lot of history at the spectrum -- from the roof blowing off in the beginning,” said Dave Howard of West Deptford, N.J. “But hey it’s progress I guess -- what are you going to do?”
The Spectrum, an institution in South Philadelphia since 1967, will be demolished to clear space for Philly Live! an entertainment area full of bars, shopping and restaurants that will be open on game days and when there are no events at the sports complex.
Of course one of the people to see some of the most memorable events at the Spectrum is probably best to sum up what will be left once the wrecking ball does it’s job.
"Everybody has that special memory and you’ll always have it," said Comcast-Spectacor spokesman Ike Richman. "Once the building's gone we'll never take the memories away from you."
And just in case you want to make sure you always remember the Spectrum you can take home a piece of the old arena. Bricks go on sale at the same time the wrecking ball hits the Spectrum Tuesday.
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