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The Spectrum will begin to crumble to the Earth today with a ceremony a little bit after 12 p.m. We'll be on the ground at the site covering things, hopefully with an Internet connection and an interview or two, and definitely with a tear or two. For now, though, it's time to share some memories of the building the Flyers called home for 29 years from 1967 to 1996.
Personally, I don't remember much from the Flyers days on the corner at Broad and Pattison. I've watched plenty of video and I've read many a book to understand the history of the place and what it meant to the Flyers, and like just about every Flyers fan born before 1996, I also saw my first hockey game there, so it'll always hold a special place in my heart.
But I'm only 21 years old. I was seven when the Flyers moved across the parking lot to the Corestates Center, and I only remember watching a handful of live Flyers games at the Spectrum. I don't remember any Stanley Cup Finals games there or the Soviet game or any of those other indelible moments in Flyers history, so for others my age, their most prominent Spectrum memory might be the Phantoms winning the Calder Cup in 1998 or something like that.
I do have one simple little memory that'll always stick with me, though.
I don't know exactly what year it was, but I was young. Maybe three or four, no older than five. It might've even been my first Flyers game. I vaguely remember them playing the Bruins, but I can't be 100 percent certain about that, and in all of my searches of old box scores, I can't find any game with the Bruins that matches the description.
In any event, I was with my Dad (which is probably the most important part of the whole memory, really). We had seats right on the glass, which is ironic because these days I absolutely can't stand sitting on the glass. My favorite player was obviously Eric Lindros, since this was the early 90s and everything. I had the jersey and everything -- actually, to this day, I still have that jersey. An old orange number 88. It belongs to my little brother now, although it probably doesn't even fit him anymore.
So we're watching the game -- I can't tell you who was winning or who wound up on top at the final horn -- and I'm mesmerized by the whole thing. I was just a little kid but that's how I can remember all of it to this day. I was just so enamored by the entire thing. The smells, the sounds, my shoes sticking to the disgusting, hadn't-been-cleaned-since-1967 floor. Every time I stepped into the Spectrum from then until the last Phantoms game I ever attended, sticking to that floor would bring back those first memories.
Back to the game: There was a big crash into the boards right in front of me. Two bodies. One's wearing number 88. They said some words to each other which I probably didn't understand, if you catch my drift, and then they dropped the gloves. Lindros pummeled this dude into the ice right in front of me.
He gets up, skates away to the penalty box, and I think I knew right there that hockey was the greatest thing man has ever created. I'm sure there's a Montreal fan or something reading this right now saying, "yeah, typical... a Philly fan gets raised on fighting." Yeah, so what. It's part of who we are as Flyers fans. I'm not ashamed of it, just like I'm not ashamed that I'll likely shed a tear or two today when that wrecking ball hits the side of the building for the first time.
My Spectrum memory is a pretty simple little story when you think about it, but that's the thing about all this -- it's usually the littlest things that turn us into fans. For every fan that became one last year during the Flyers crazy playoff run, there's another who became a fan because their Mom or Dad took them to one of the many games the team lost last season.
They loved their hot dog and the way Carter Hutton's hair looked during warm-ups, and in 25 or 30 years when they're knocking down the Wells Fargo Center, they'll share their story as well. Share your Spectrum memories in the comments below.