"God Bless the Spectrum"

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    The Spectrum opened in 1967.

    With Philly-favorites Bruce Springsteen and The Dead in Philly this week to bid farewell to the Spectrum there is no better time to look back at the arena dubbed, "America's Showplace."

    "America's Showplace" -- that's how Comcast-Spectacor's Ike Richman described the Spectrum in South Philly.

    Richman is what you could call a Spectrum connoisseur.

    His grandfather was the owner of the Sixers until his death in 1965 so Richman was ingrained with a love of basketball. He literally grew up going to games at the Spectrum after it opened in 1967.

    But the soon-to-be-demolished Spectrum means so much more than just basketball to Richman.

    "There are so many personal memories," Richman told NBC Philadelphia.

    Richman took some time out of his busy schedule as spokesman for Comcast-Spectacor to talk about a new book, "God Bless the Spectrum" that was a collective effort between Comcast-Spectacor and the Philadelphia Daily News.

    "God Bless the Spectrum" was the brainchild of Comcast-Spectacor's Chairman (and de facto owner of the Sixers and Flyers) Ed Snider and President Peter Luukko, said Richman. They wanted to find a way to share some of the great moments in the 42-plus-year history of the Spectrum.

    "All these people kept coming up to us with their memories," said Richman.

    They reached out to the Philadelphia Daily News to see if they could work together on a book full of photos and stories about the arena dubbed, "America's Showplace."  Richman worked on the Comcast-Spectacor side while Pat McLoone took up the lead at the Daily News.

    You can buy a copy here.

    So if it's all about Spectrum memories, then what about your favorite memory?

    "It changes all the time," said Richman.

    Richman gave us three events anyhow. Richman's faves were the 1976 NBA All-Star Game, 1992 NHL All-Star game and seeing Van Halen rock the house in the summer of 1981.

    Richman recalled a lot of great musical moments -- it makes sense considering the nostalgia of this week with both Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band and The Dead playing the Spectrum for the final time.

    The Spectrum meant a lot especially to Springsteen, said Richman. Many notable dates in the Boss' career happened at the Spectrum including getting booed off stage when he opened for Chicago in 1973 and playing the night that John Lennon was shot.

    The Grateful Dead felt at home in the Spectrum. They played the hallowed arena so many times that a banner sits in the rafters to commemorate their 53 shows.

    Billy Joel is the other guy who really rocked the Spectrum. Early in his career WMMR started playing Joel's "Captain Jack" when other cities ignored the Piano Man. The Spectrum and Philly were like home when Joel had almost given up on the music biz, said Richman.

    But who is the one figure that will always be synonymous with the Spectrum?

    "Ed Snider," Richman said. It was Snider's vision to build the Spectrum and without him many of the building's great moments including the Flyers winning the Stanley Cup would have never happened, Richman added.

    Richman also let NBC Philadelphia readers onto an interesting tidbit. Some of the Spectrum fixtures and items will be sold at auction -- maybe even the Grateful Dead banner.

    God Bless the Spectrum -- thanks for the memories.