Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Philadelphia Civic Center: Home of the Firebirds

philadelphia civic center
When the Philadelphia Firebirds played in the North American Hockey League for three years from 1974-75 to 1976-77, the team played their home games at the Philadelphia Civic Center. The full name was Philadelphia Convention Hall and Civic Center.

The Firebirds won a Lockhart Cup championship at the Civic Center in 1975-76. When the NAHL disbanded after the 1976-77 season, the Firebirds joined the American Hockey League and played out of the Civic Center for the 1977-78 and 1978-79 seasons before leaving town.

The Philadelphia Civic Center was opened in 1931. The arena held a capacity of around 9,000 for hockey. The venue was closed in 1996 and demolished in 2005.

The Civic Center was also home to a handful of other professional sports teams. In pro hockey, the Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association played at the arena for the 1972-73 season. It was the first year of WHA hockey and the only year that Philadelphia had a franchise. The team was meant to start as the Miami Screaming Eagles but had to move to Philly because of arena issues.

The Blazers were hyped by the signings of goaltender Bernie Parent and NHL budding superstar Derek Sanderson. Both soon after returned to the National Hockey League. The Blazers were relocated to Vancouver for the 1973-74 season.

Professional basketball in Philadelphia was rooted in the Civic Center. The Philadelphia Warriors of the NBA played their home games at the venue from 1952-53 to 1961-62. The team won a NBA title in 1955-56 with a victory over the Fort Wayne Pistons. For the 1962-63 season, the Warriors moved to San Francisco and are the present day Golden State Warriors.

The Philadelphia 76ers also called the Civic Center home from 1963-64 to 1966-67. The 76ers were relocated from Syracuse, New York after 1962-63. They were originally known as the Syracuse Nationals. The 76ers moved into the Spectrum for 1967-68, the same year the NHL’s Flyers moved in.

As for the Spectrum, it seated 17,380 for hockey. It closed in 2009 and was demolished in 2011.


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