Sunday, March 15, 2009

R.I.P. Spectrum


This past Friday night, a peice of my past died. I guess it is a piece of every Philadelphian of a certain age's past. The last sporting event was held at the Spectrum. It was a basketball game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls. The Sixers have been playing in the brand new Wachovia Center across the street for the last six or seven years and so have the Flyers, while the Spectrum has been mostly used for high school graduations, high school basketball games, and small civic events. It was announced last year that the Spectrum was going to be torn down. The Sixers decided to play one last game there on Friday night and to have members of the 1983 NBA World Championship team attend the building's send off.

None of the current Sixers was even born in 1967 when the Spectrum opened. Back then, it was billed as an "ultra-modern sports facility" for Philadelphia's relatively young basketball team. The Sixers came to Philadelphia in 1963 from Syracuse and I don't have any idea where they played ball before there was a Spectrum. The Spectrum is, in fact, all I know. I can't tell you how many times my father took my brother and I to basketball games there or, after I got older, how many times I went there with my friends to see the Sixers.

The one time I ever attended a hockey game, it was at the Spectrum. I may have been one of three Blacks in attendance and the other two might have been a cop and a concession stand worker. I'm kidding of course... there were actually five of us. I also saw a few concerts there too... Hall & Oates, Phyllis Hyman, New Edition, Bobby Brown, and the Parliament-Funkadelic Mothership Connection Tour in 1977. (If you want to go w-a-y back, my wife remembers going there to see the Jackson Five three years in row 1969-71.) The Spectrum was also featured in a few of the Rocky movies. Those were all good times that I'll never forget.

I was at an NBA World Championship game between who else... the Sixers and the Los Angeles Lakers (it seemed like it was always us against them) when I saw a young rookie named Earvin "Magic" Johnson for the first time. He played every position that night... guard, forward, and center (Kareem Abdul Jabbar was out with a sprained ankle). He scored 22 points and crushed the Sixers right in front of my eyes. Who knew that we were watching the beginning of greatness?

I can still remember the smell of the hot dogs, the over-salted soft pretzels, sodas, and beer splashing and spilling in between the seats. Those smells never leave you. I can remember the constant smell of Pine Sol in the restrooms... it seemed like they poured the entire bottle of Pine Sol in those restrooms back then.

The last time I was at the Spectrum was in 1989. It was a concert that featured a very young Heavy D. & the Boys, Guy, Al B. Sure, and a forgettable MC for you hip-hop historians... Father MC. The only reason I bring him up is because one of his background singers was a very young and still unknown Mary J. Blige. She was singing the hook to "Treat 'Em Like They Wanna Be Treated." I didn't know it was her at the time... I found out years later. She talked about it during an interview and said that she was the one singing the hook on that song. And, it was not just her... K-Ci and JoJo, (future members of Jodeci ) were also singing background for Father MC that night.

My Spectrum memories are many and I could go on and on... but, I think this will suffice. They are going to tear it down soon and with it will go one more monument from my past. I hear that the demolition will start this coming Friday. I don't think that I'll be the only Philadelphian shedding a tear on that day.

24 comments:

clnmike said...

Their was some legendary games in that building. Breaks your heart to see it go.

A Free Spirit Butterfly said...

Sorry for your loss. Our Spectrum was the Capital Center now known as The Majic Johnson Theater. Our parents would always drop us off and have a meeting point to pick us back up. I remember the smell of weed in most concerts not knowing why I was so hungry afterwards (lol) Thanks for the little piece of History on my girl Mary J. I didn't know that.

Love, peace and blessings for a great Sunday!

CurvyGurl ♥ said...

Yep, I definitely know how it goes to lose a fixture of great memories. When they moved the Skins from DC's RFK stadium it was a sad time. I got over it quickly though...lol. The new
stadium doesn't have the same feeling of togetherness though :-(.

LOL @ A Free Spirit...sounds like we live close to each other.

Toni said...

I have a few memories of the Spectrum myself.

Lisa said...

You know I've driven past it and never been inside..Thanks for giving us a veiw of what it was like Keith.

Vanessa said...

I think Power 99 had "Powerhouse" there one year and I was at that.

Halo said...

My older brothers talk about the Spectrum...I'm sorry I never got the chance to experience it.

Angie B. said...

I've been to the Spectrum a number of times...I remember those smells you were talking about Keith-lololol-The Beer, the Popcorn, the
Hot Dogs...Wow..that does bring back memories.

Sunflower said...

It's going to break my heart too to see the Spectrum go. Thanks for this trip down memory lane, Keith.

James Perkins said...

Ahhh, I too had some fine memories of the Spectrum.

Simon Bastion said...

Nice Post...I'm sorry I missed going to this place..It sounds like it was magic.

Keith said...

@Simon- It was Magic, it really was!

Tate2 said...

My Dad and My Uncles talked about it. I was a little too young to remember the Spectrum.

Jazzy said...

I saw a lot of Sixers games there..
Took a lot of different women there too back in the day.

Swaggie said...

I haven't been to the Wachovia Center, let alone the Spectrum.

Grover Tha Playboy said...

I'm not a Philadelphian, but I can imagine the history of a place like that and the excitement of such a place.

Political Sean said...

I was at the Spectrum many many times...I remember the aromas and the smells too as well as the crowd sounds...I am gonna miss it.

Anonymous said...

Wow...and Barack Obama wasn't mentioned one time in this or your last three posts...Good Job.

Captain Jack said...

Great Post...but sad to say, I've lived in and around Philadelphia my whole life and I was never once there..Now I feel as though I've missed something.

Keith said...

@Anonymous- Barack Obama is the President of the United States..Deal with it!

Arlene said...

Great post Keith. One of Pancho's PR jobs at Miller Brewery resulted in tickets for us to that Sixers championship game. We, that is Karen and I, didn't realize how close we sat to the stars. Of course Pancho and his friends knew who those "tall" folks were. We were just glad for a night out.

P.S. Do you know who "anonymous" is? Do you want us to find out? If the comments are irratating you (they are irratating me) Vev and I will take care of this for you,lil' cuz. (LOL)

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

i remember the 83-84 season of the 76ers and that team rip

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hello there!

I didn't realize that...

Wow...

Another piece of history vanishes...

Gad said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Kaylee

http://www.craigslistposter.info




KEEPING THE FAITH: RANDOM PRAYERS "ON THE DOWNLOAD"
























































"Mommy, can I go to Timmy's blog and play?"



































Click on image to enlarge for reading






Click on image to enlarge for reading



Click on image to enlarge for reading