The South Philadelphia Sports Complex has its beginnings back in 1926 when the Sesquicentennial/Municipal/John F. Kennedy Stadium was built. The horseshoe-shape stadium sat 102,000 and was best known as the site of the Army-Navy game from 1936-1979. Before moving to Memphis, the stadium was the site of the Liberty Bowl from 1959-1963. But the stadium was best known as a venue for some of the most memorable concerts in the history of music. The Beatles played there in 1966. The Rolling Stones played there in 1978 in front of a crowd of over 100,000. Journey headlined there in 1983. But the biggest concert held at the stadium was held on the day music changed the world. On July 13, 1985, the American portion of Live Aid was held here. The stadium was the site of two victory rallies: one to celebrate the 1980 World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies, and the other one celebrating the 1975 Stanley Cup Champion Philadelphia Flyers. After a Grateful Dead concert in 1989, the stadium was condemned and eventually demolished three years later to make way for the construction of the arena now known as Wells Fargo Center.
The next building that comprised the complex was The Spectrum. Everyone that has been a Philadelphia Sports fan for the last 40-plus years knows about The Spectrum. But here’s something you might not know: according to former Spectrum president Lou Scheinfeld, the name Spectrum was selected to evoke the broad range of events to be held there. “The ‘SP’ for ‘sports’ and ‘South Philadelphia,’ ‘E’ for ‘entertainment,’ ‘C’ for ‘circuses,’ ‘T’ for ‘theatricals,’ ‘R’ for ‘recreation,’ and ‘UM’ as ‘um, what a nice building!”
The third building that comprised the complex was Veterans Stadium. For 32 years, “The Vet” was the home of both the Phillies and the Philadelphia Eagles. It was your basic multi-purpose stadium similar to stadiums built in Pittsburgh (Three Rivers Stadium), Cincinnati (Riverfront Stadium), Atlanta (Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium), St. Louis (Busch Memorial Stadium), and San Diego (Qualcomm Stadium). It was also home to the most notorious fan section in Philadelphia sports: the 700 Level. On March 21, 2004, Veterans Stadium was imploded to make way for a parking lot for Citizens Bank Park. The only remnants of “The Vet” was where home plate was, where the pitching mound is, where a football goalpost once stood, the dedication plaque that once adorned the stadium wall, and the Veterans Memorial that was built after the stadium was demolished.
Even though these buildings no longer exist, they are indeed a part of Philadelphia sports lore.