The headlines brought the inevitable many were hoping never to hear: "This will be the final year of the Spectrum," Comcast-Spectacor Chairman Ed Snider said earlier this week.
"This has been one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make," Snider said in a press release Tuesday morning. "The Spectrum is my baby. It’s one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me, but after a lot of thinking and discussions, we all feel it is in our best interest to close the Spectrum at the conclusion of the upcoming 2008-09 Philadelphia Phantoms and KiXX seasons."
Comcast-Spectacor, which owns the Wachovia Center along with the Wachovia Spectrum, Flyers and 76ers, unveiled plans in January for the 300,000-square-foot retail, dining and entertainment district Philly Live! in the space adjacent to the Wachovia Center, connecting it and the Spectrum. What exactly will replace the Spectrum, however, is still undetermined.
"Philly Live! will replace [the Spectrum], it will be a development with our partners, The Cordish Company," Comcast-Spectacor President Peter Luukko said. "It will be retail, restaurants, just a fun place for people to go before and after a game. [It will] really be that one element this area does not have … now it’s time to add another amenity."
At the time of the announcement, Comcast-Spectacor was in discussions to relocate the Phantoms to another facility for the 2009-10 season.
Philadelphia KiXX President Jeffrey Rotwitt is behind the project: "The Spectrum has been our home for 12 years and we are disappointed to see it go, but I understand and fully support Comcast-Spectacor’s decision."
How the 41-year-old arena will come down — whether by implosion or other means — has yet to be determined.
Luukko said the final season will commemorate the arena’s history with a year-long celebration, including the possibility of a preseason Flyers game and a regular-season Sixers game. The company also intends to bring back several musical acts and entertainers the Spectrum has hosted over the years, but did not give specifics.