Spectrum sellout crowd says goodbye

April 10, 2009 8:40:11 PM PDT
There was a sellout crowd at the Spectrum Friday night to see the Phantoms final regular season game. The legendary Flyer and coach Bill Barber came out to mark the occasion as did, the legendary, but ever so humble, Frank "The Animal" Bialowas, among a few others. They even brought out the Calder Cup, which Phantoms won twice during their 13 year history at the Spectrum.

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For Barber and Bialowas, there are so many memories within this building.

"I think the 1-0 game against Boston, us winning the Stanley Cup, it was a very, very special time as a player," Barber said.

"It's going to be sad to take down this building, I remember the first night I played, you know there was only 2,500 people in the building, it's like, 'What do we have to do to fill the building up?" Bialowas said.

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Now, the Phantoms have been sold to a group from Pittsburg, and the Spectrum, home of so many entertainment venues, is shutting down in the fall to make way for a hotel and shopping complex.

For athletes and fans alike, that's a tough pill to swallow.

RELATED: Swan Song For The Spectrum Photogallery "It hurts to see them tear this down to put up a hotel," Gene Geary of Southwest Philadelphia said.

"It's very disappointing; it's a shame. It's been so much fun coming to these games for 13 years, it's been like a part of my life and I'm going to miss it," Phantoms fan Dennis Brown said.

"I grew up here, my first concert, first hockey game, all those great memories and it's weird that they're going be torn down soon," Shannon Carey-Spier of Haddon Heights said.

One fan, Leonard Forte of West Deptford, carried a fading aerial shot of the spectrum pictured with the now gone, JFK Stadium and the now gone Vet, signed by so many athletes over the years.

"When I die, I want this [picture] to come with me. I will not let this go nowhere," Forte said.

But as the saying went here, it ain't over til the fat lady sings.

The Phantoms made it into the playoffs tonight, so we may see at least one more game here, but ultimately, just like JFK Stadium, just like the Vet, the Spectrum will be gone along with so many memories.

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