The Full Spectrum

An oral history

Allen Spivak, co-founder, Electric Factory Concerts: The first event was the Quaker City Jazz Festival, which my brother Herbie booked. It was in the round, and it sold out. Ed Snider and my brother had a big argument because there were people who didn’t have seats. Ed accused my brother of overselling. When we looked around, we found a section where the seats weren’t installed yet.

J. Russell Peltz, boxing promoter: Boxing was the first sporting event — Joe Frazier and Tony Doyle [October 17, 1967]. I went to that fight as a fan. No one in their right mind expected Doyle to win.

Joe Frazier, former heavyweight champion: I opened up the Spectrum. The fans supported me, but when you face an opponent, there ain’t nobody there but you, him and the referee.

J. Russell Peltz: Frazier knocked him out in the second round.

Lou Scheinfeld: [In 1975, Sylvester] Stallone or one of his people approached the Spectrum [about filming Rocky there], but we were skeptical that it was really going to happen. Whoever it was they came to brushed them off. Right after that, we started PRISM [the local sports cable network], and one of our movie partners was United Artists. They said, “We think we have a huge hit on our hands, and nobody’s heard of this guy [Stallone].” Later on, we said, “We kind of blew it.”

Pat Williams, Orlando Magic senior vice president/former Sixers GM: The first time I set foot in the Spectrum was Christmas week of 1967. I was the general manager of the Phillies farm club in South Carolina, and I went to a Sixers game. I had grown up in the Palestra. The Sixers had a hard time filling Convention Hall, and now they were talking about moving to this building with more seats and higher rent. The owners [Irv Kosloff and Ike Richman] had definite reservations. But the Spectrum was breathtaking. It was the crown jewel of the country.

Sonny Hill, broadcaster/Philadelphia basketball guru: I started my broadcast career there. When the great players came in — Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell — it was a great atmosphere. The games were just pure basketball. Mano-a-mano.

Ed Snider: I had a great relationship with the Sixers players, but I was a landlord. It’s totally different when you own a team. Prior to the Flyers’ start, the Hockey News rated the six new NHL teams, and we were considered the least likely to succeed. The building was half empty, but slowly, we started getting more people. And then the roof came off during the Ice Capades [on February 17, 1968].

Howard Eskin, 610 WIP radio host: The roof blew off before my high-school graduation there, which was June 12, 1968. We had a graduation practice earlier that day, and I walked out with a chair. There was no security, so I just picked up a chair and took it. I think my sisters have it somewhere.

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