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Philadelphia Spectrum Memoirs

Bob Backlund vs. Sgt. Slaughter from the Spectrum As a kid, do you remember your first time in a big arena? Maybe it was for the circus or seeing a concert? Did that place ever give you goose bumps from the second you entered into it? Being from Philadelphia, I know I got mine when I walked into The Spectrum. Long before the Wachovia Center was built, we had a little place located somewhere in the area of Veterans Stadium and I-95. It even stood longer than The Vet. Now, the city is getting ready to take down a piece of history. I wanted to write a few fond memories I have of this place, and share the joys I had in this little place that once was host to many amazing events. We’re going to miss you big guy.

[adinserter block=”1″]I have been to this place quite a few times in my life. I wish I could tell you that I saw some great concerts here, but I can’t. For me, I was lucky enough to see two different kinds of acts here over the years. Two of which, made my childhood rich with smiles. From getting a soda and nacho’s at the concessions stand, to the smell and sights of the bathrooms, it was all something to take in. The first event I saw many times is something most have seen at some point or another. I am talking about a professional wrestling event at The Spectrum. There was nothing like being a part of one at this place.

Admit it, you know when you were younger, or even to this day, the fight of good and evil was just mesmerizing to you. I have seen many cards put on here. From just regular house shows, to WWE Raw, or even WCW Nitro or Thunder, I was there. It was always crazy to me seeing the local guys get in a big dogs’ ring. Going to one Nitro show about 12 years ago, I remember just going insane seeing The Public Enemy put a tag team through tables on live TV. It was surreal seeing Steve Austin in Philly, calling Vince McMahon a chicken s**t in my town on an episode of Raw.

The best Spectrum memory for me was in 1991. A little WWE house show, with two of the biggest names of all time. You may have heard of two guys named Ric Flair vs Hulk Hogan who once ruled pro wrestling. This also was my first ever live show, and I also got to share it with my brother and step father. As soon as those two came through the curtain, the roof blew off. Being it was for the heavyweight title, it was just that much sweeter. Even though it was a house show, they went out and put on a Pay Per View match. I went ballistic when Flair threw powder in Hogan’s face. I desperately tried yelling to the ref, with no luck. Hogan won the match, but from that point on, I had found a new love. It was a thing of beauty only so many had seen with both guys in their prime.

If there was one thing I looked forward to at The Spectrum, it was cold February nights. The loud roars, the smell of gasoline stinging your nose, and the sight of those huge 10,000 pound monster trucks. When I was 2 or 3, I went to my first show at The Spectrum. Back then, they didn’t have trucks driving through mobile homes, or attempting back flips. It was the original monster truck, Bigfoot, slowly crushing 4 or 5 cars. This was just the side act back then. As the years went by, the trucks and the driving changed. Eventually, these huge machines were the main attraction, and I kept coming back every year. The heated races between Bigfoot and Grave Digger kept myself, and thousands more over the years satisfied. I was in attendance to see what was one of the only roll over’s in our little arena, and it was truly a sight never to forget. Now that they are tearing up The Spectrum, events like this, or Phantoms hockey games, won’t have a home for the time being. If you never got to see these big toys in person, you are truly missing out.

[adinserter block=”2″]It almost feels like losing a family pet. It’s almost as sad as parent’s seeing their first child off to college. Yes, a place that is in down town South Philadelphia has an effect on someone such as me like this. Philadelphia wants to replace history with restaurants and other various things. It upsets me to think that kids born 1, 5, 15 years down the line, will never know of the place where the Rocky statue once called home. They will be imploding The Spectrum soon, and I will be there to see it go down for good. With that, I say thank you, for all the memories of my childhood, for bringing a smile to my face, and for the tear I will truly shed when you stand no more. It’s a safe bet to say you have a special place in many Philadelphians’ heart. Visit www.rememberthespectrum.com for many great memories and memorabilia.

See Hulk Hogan take on Andre the Giant at the Spectrum from 1980

Josh Usher has been a fan of sports and sports entertainment for over 20 years and bleeds green.

See Hulk Hogan challenge Bob Backlund for the WWWF title at the Spectrum on the upcoming all-new Hulk Hogan DVD set by clicking here.

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