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A fond farewell (in advance) to the Spectrum

It still has one year to exist but they are already starting to say goodbye to the Spectrum in Philadelphia.Philadelphia sports fans are known as hardbitten, unsentimental types who, when their team is going bad, have been known to boo Santa Claus. But underneath the hardscrabble exterior of many of those same people is a soft spot for a few favorite people … and places.

Count the Wachovia Spectrum, the onetime home for all winter pro sports in town, on that list. The old building on Broad Street has one more year of life in it. (It is scheduled for destruction next summer.) The current tenants are the AHL Phantoms and the Kixx of indoor soccer fame. Once upon a time, however, it was the home of the NHL Flyers and the NBA 76ers, both of whom hoisted league championship banners to the rafters.

It was never a very fancy building but that is what the locals liked about it. It was like the town — a simple, efficient pleasant facility where the city’s bluecollar fans felt very comfortable.

The obituary writers are already busy at work. Marge Murray of the Philadelphia Weekly Press offers up a lengthy farewell here. It’s a tad gushy but it does serve as a reminder that, in some cases, good arenas are the face of a city. There are fancier, nicer buildings than the Spectrum out there. But there may be no building that comes closer to being an inanimate mirror of the city where it resides.