The Philadelphia Flyers' former home rink derives its character from the incredible fans who flock to every contest. The intimate building still rings of the Broad Street Bullies era. From Kate Smith singing "God Bless America" to the irrepressible Dave Leonardi, better known as "the Signman of Philly," Flyers fans are unpretentious in their taste.
"It's a blue-collar crowd, and that's the way they want their team to play," said former Flyers assistant coach Ken Hitchcock.
"They appreciate finesse but still go back to the way things were in the 1970's. They like very physical hockey. If you can go and play physical hockey the first 10 minutes the crowd is behind you. They really appreciate that type of hockey. They want to see a good effort from every player. If you don't perform you're going to hear about it, but if you do they're very supportive."
The Flyers' physical brand of hockey brought them two Stanley Cups in the 1970s, and their rink was the most intimidating in the league. "It wasn't fund going into that building," recalls Walt McKechnie, a veteran of 16 seasons. "When you went into the Spectrum to play the Flyers you knew you were in for a physical contest. We had players showing up with the 'Philly Flu.' That's when a player claims to be sick or to leave his skates at the hotel because he doesn't want to play in there."
The home of the Philadelphia Flyers honors an underdog spirit that originally characterized one of the most successful expansion franchises in the NHL. The statues of Rocky Balboa and the scorers of a key Flyers goal certainly express that spirit. The Wall of Fame inside the stadium gives a lot of team history.
The arena is a three-level stadium, and all the seats inside are red. There is a good scoreboard, but no luxury seats or other newer amenities. However, an improved Spectrum 2 is built next door and is scheduled to be ready for the 1996 season.
From the south, take I-95 north to Broad Street exit and follow it to Zinkoff Blvd. and turn right.
The Spectrum history
- First regular-season game: Oct. 19, 1967, 1-0 over the Penguins
- March 1, 1968, Spectrum Roof was blown off, forcing the NHL Flyers to play the final month of the season on the road and the NBA 76ers to play at the Palestra and Convention Hall.
- First overtime game: Nov. 20, 1983, 6-5 over the Penguins
- First Stanley Cup finals game: May 12, 1974, 4-1 over the Bruins
- Dec. 8, 1987: Ron Hextall becomes the first NHL goalie in history to shoot the puck directly into the opposing net in 5-2 win over Boston
The Spectrum in Philadelphia is changing the name of its restaurant to Bullies. The name is in honor of the Broad Street Bullies, a former nickname of the NHL Flyers. The restaurant also has a new design and format.
"My first NHL game was at the Spectrum," said Craig MacTavish, who spent five years in the Bruins system in the late '70s and early '80s. "Lots of memories. It wasn't a great place to play against Philly back in those days. It was intimidating in there ... there were guys who just refused to play in that building at times."
It was called the Philly Flu, players faking illness because they didn't want to be caught alone in the corner with the likes of Dave (The Hammer) Schultz, Bob (Mad Dog) Kelly, Don (Big Bird) Saleski, Mel Bridgeman, and Andre (Moose) Dupont. "They had some epic characters," said MacTavish. "Behn Wilson was maybe the meanest guy that you've ever played against. People talk about a lack of respect in today's game? Give me a break."
September 30, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Demolition of the Spectrum arena in Philadelphia is expected to begin in early November, according to the Delaware Daily Times. The venue will not be imploded, but will fall under the battering of a wrecking ball, the newspaper said. The Spectrum was committed to death row in January, 2008 when it was reported that it was going to be razed in favor of a new hotel and entertainment complex in South Philadelphia known as "Philly Live!" The project, which will be constructed by the Cordish Co. of Baltimore, Md., will bring a series of shops, restaurants, bars and night clubs to the South Philadelphia sports complex area and will take up a significant piece of land on the property where the Spectrum and its parking lots sit.
SPECTRUM WALLS COMING DOWN
December 2, 2010
Copyright 2010 MediaVentures
Philadelphia, Pa. - The wrecking ball has begun its work in tearing down the 43-year-old Spectrum arena, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
Once removed, the footprint will be part of a new "Philly Live" project to be developed by Cordish Cos., of Baltimore, but the final product is expected to be smaller than originally anticipated.
The News said the 350,000-square-foot Philly Live! has shrunk to a 40,000-to 45,000-square-foot "Phase One" building featuring a huge sports bar with Philadelphia hockey and hoops memorabilia.
"We may bring in the penalty box from the Spectrum, or the backboards or pieces of the basketball court," Comcast Spectacor spokesman Ike Richman told the Daily News.
Phase One construction is expected to begin in April and be completed by mid-2012, Richman said. Gary Block, vice president of Cordish, responded to questions from the Daily News in an e-mail response to Richman saying: "We are in discussions on the exact concept of the space and we hope to announce our plans soon."
Comcast Spectacor has a ground lease with the Philadelphia Authority for Industrial Development that gives it the right to develop the city-owned Spectrum property for the next 50 years, just as that lease gave Comcast Spectacor the right to build what is now called the Wells Fargo Center.
Sam Rhoads, senior vice president of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corp., told the Daily News: "From the city's point of view, the beautiful thing about a sports arena is that everything down there gets taxed. You buy a ticket, buy a beer, park your car - it's all taxed. The same will be true for Philly Live!, which is basically going to be a retail complex where everything gets taxed."
Deputy Mayor Greenberger told the newspaper he foresees Philly Live! as a destination independent of sports-complex events.
"You don't have to have tickets to an Eagles game to go there, because people will see it as a cool place to hang out, a place where a lot of people are hanging out, having a good time," he said. "Maybe you don't want to spend too much money on a mediocre stadium hot dog," he said, laughing. "Maybe you'd rather spend the same money in a Philly Live! restaurant on something that tastes better - and watch the game on TV."