Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘The Spectrum’ tag

1996-2010 Philadelphia Kixx

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Philadelphia KixxNational Professional Soccer League (1996-2001)
Major Indoor Soccer League (2001-2008)
National Indoor Soccer League (2008-2009)
Major Indoor Soccer League (2009-2010)

Born: 1995 – NPSL expansion franchise
Folded: Postseason 2010

Arenas:

Team Colors: Teal, Red & Black

Owners:

MISL Champions: 2002 & 2007

 

The Philadelphia Kixx were a long-running indoor soccer team that enjoyed strong popularity in the City of Brotherly Love for a few years during the late 1990’s.   The club was originally founded as a National Professional Soccer League (NPSL) expansion franchise in 1996 by local businessman Ed Tepper.

Tepper was one of the pioneers of the sport of indoor soccer.  He more or less stumbled across the sport during a brief stint as owner of the old Philadelphia Wings box lacrosse team that played at the Spectrum in 1974 and 1975.  Captivated by the potential of the indoor game, Tepper quickly sold off the Wings to focus on soccer.  He was a co-founder of the first pro indoor league, the Major Indoor Soccer League, in 1978.  But Tepper had been away from the sport for more than a decade when came back to form the Kixx in 1995.  Tepper kept the team until 2002, when he turned over primary ownership to local attorney Jeffrey Rotwitt.  Rotwitt would support the club until its demise in 2010.

The Kixx were the top box office draw in the NPSL for three straight years from 1998 to 2000, averaging over 8,000 fans per game.  But the team’s fortunes dipped in the 2000’s as Major League Soccer and the rapid growth of the outdoor game relegated a succession of indoor soccer leagues to irrelevance and disarray.  The Kixx were further marginalized in 2009 when the Spectrum, their home of 13 years, closed it doors and the team was exiled to the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University.  The club went on a hiatus at the end of the 2009-10 season, which turned out to be just a euphemism for going out of business.

The Kixx won two league championships during their fourteen-year run, capturing Major Indoor Soccer League titles in 2002 and 2007.

 

Philadelphia Kixx Memorabilia

 

Kixx Video

The Kixx host the Baltimore Blast at the Spectrum, March 24, 2007.

The Kixx claim their second and final MISL championship against the Detroit Ignition, April 2007.

 

 

Links

National Professional Soccer League Media Guides

National Professional Soccer League Programs

2001-Present Indoor Soccer Media Guides

2001-Present Indoor Soccer Programs

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1994-1996 Philadelphia Bulldogs

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Roller Hockey International (1994-1996)

Born: 1994 – RHI expansion franchise.
Died: Postseason 1996 – The Bulldogs cease operations.

Arena: The CoreStates Spectrum (17,380)

Team Colors: Teal, Purple, Black & Silver

Owners:

 

The Philadelphia Bulldogs were an expansion team for the second season of Roller Hockey International (RHI) during the summer of 1994.  RHI was an attempt to cash in on the inline skating craze of the early 1990’s.  Despite the sport’s grass roots appeal, the league struggled mightily to convert recreational skaters into paying customers willing to head indoors in the middle of the summer and pay to watch anonymous minor league hockey moonlighting for extra cash during their offseason.

Bulldogs owners Ron Salcer and Tony Danza felt this pain acutely.  Salcer was an NHL player agent and a recreational roller hockey player in Southern California where he played with Danza, the erstwhile star of sitcoms “Taxi” and “Who’s The Boss?”  Salcer hired a pair of Philadelphia Flyers stars from the Broad Street Bullies era of the 1970’s to head the front office.  Dave Schultz was Head Coach and General Manager and Bob Kelly handled sales and marketing.  The team sold somewhere in the neighborhood of 900 season tickets.  But after a decent turnout for the Bulldogs’ home debut at the Spectrum on June 30, 1994 (the team announced 10,273, the Philadelphia Inquirer eyeballed it at 6,000), crowds plummeted quickly.  The Bulldogs lost around $700,000 in the first season and half their investor group.

The Bulldogs did manage a winning record of 12-10 under Dave Schultz and advanced to the 1994 RHI playoffs, where they were bounced in the first round by the Montreal Roadrunners.

Salcer described the Bulldogs debut season as his “worst nightmare” toThe Philadelphia Daily News in 1995 and considered disbanding the team.  Instead, he hung in for another year but downsized the team’s operations, firing Schultz and Kelly, and relying on stadium staff from the Corestates Spectrum to market and operate the team.  Only 2,369 turned out for the 1994 home opener.  The team went 12-10-2 and made it to the second round of the RHI playoffs before running into their old nemesis the Montreal Roadrunners, who eliminated them for the second straight year.

In 1996, the Bulldogs posted their best record (16-9-3) but with a slimmed down playoff format, this wasn’t good enough to qualify for postseason play.  The Bulldogs disbanded after the 1996 season.

Philadelphia also had a minor league football team called the Philadelphia Bulldogs in the Continental Football League in 1965 and 1966.

 

==YouTube==

The Bulldogs host the Chicago Cheetahs at the Spectrum on July 11, 1994.

==Downloads==

Philadelphia  Bulldogs Article Sources

==Links==

Roller Hockey International Media Guides

Roller Hockey International Programs

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1974-1975 Philadelphia Wings

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Philadelphia Wings 1970'sNational Lacrosse League (1974-1975)

Born: February 11, 1974 – NLL founding franchise
Folded: February 1976

Arena: The Spectrum (17,007)

Team Colors:

Owners

Nations Cup Championships: None

 

The Philadelphia Wings were one of the founding franchises in the National Lacrosse League (1974-1975), a mid-1970’s attempt to introduce the sport of box lacrosse to major arenas in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada.

The original six clubs were the Maryland Arrows, Montreal Quebecois, Philadelphia, Rochester Griffins, Syracuse Stingers and Toronto Tomahawks.  Teams played a 40-game summer schedule between May and September 1974.

Culturally, the sport of box lacrosse shared a lot of DNA with ice hockey.  Many Canadian players of the era also had experience playing lacrosse and several NHL players moonlighted in the National Lacrosse League to make extra cash during the summer.  Wings forward Doug Favell was a goaltender for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the winter (and a former Philadelphia Flyer).

The NLL also attracted NHL owners and investors with NHL connections.  Detroit Red Wings owner Bruce Norris owned the Toronto franchise.  Wings owner Ed Tepper, a local real estate developer, was a personal friend of Flyers owner Ed Snider.

The Wings debuted in Philadelphia in remarkable fashion on Sunday night, May 19th, 1974.  The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Boston Bruins that afternoon at the Spectrum to capture the Stanley Cup.  While the city celebrated, stadium workers hurriedly flipped the building, laying the NLL”s wooden court over the ice for the Wings game that same night.  Wings players made their way through the revelers out on the streets to get to the arena.  But the lacrosse team was hardly an afterthought.  An announced crowd of 12,841 turned out to watch the Wings beat the Montreal Quebecois 18-11.

Philadelphia put up the best record in the NLL in 1974, finishing the regular season at 27-13.  They were also the most popular box office draw, claiming just under 9,000 fans per game.  Larry Lloyd (82 goals) and John Grant (78 goals) finished #3 and #4 in the league in scoring, respectively.  In a mild upset, the Wings lost the best-of-seven Nations Trophy championship series to the 2nd place Rochester Griffins in September 1974.

After the 1974 inaugural season, three of the NLL’s original six franchise shifted cities and the league was unable to attract new expansion teams, despite Wings’ owner Ed Tepper’s public pronouncement in January 1975 that the league expected to add new clubs in Cincinnati, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Kansas City.  Philadelphia remained as one of the league’s few stable franchises.

The team itself was a disappointment in 1975, finishing in 5th place and out of the playoffs with a 21-25-2 record.  Following the season, the NLL’s Boston, Long Island and Montreal ran into financial and arena problems.  With only the Wings, the Maryland Arrows and the Quebec Caribous prepared to continue, and no expansion prospects in sight, the National Lacrosse League folded in February 1976, almost two years to the day after its formation was first announced.

In 1987, professional box lacrosse returned to the American sports scene with the debut of Eagle Pro Box Lacrosse.  Among the league’s four teams was a Philadelphia club, which chose to revive the Wings brand name.  The “new” Wings went on to play 28 seasons in Philadelphia before moving to the Mohegan Sun casino resort in Connecticut in 2015.  They were the longest continuously operating pro lacrosse team in American history.  One player – John Grant Sr. – returned from the original Wings of the 1970’s to see action for the new Wings.  In later years, his son John Grant Jr.would also come to star for the Wings.

 

Philadelphia Wings Memorabilia

 

Downloads

5-23-1974 Philadelphia Wings vs. Syracuse Stingers Rosters

1974 Philadelphia Wings Final Statistics

 

Links

National Lacrosse League Media Guides

National Lacrosse League Programs

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1978-1982 Philadelphia Fever

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Major Indoor Soccer League (1978-1982)

Born: 1978 – MISL founding franchise
Folded: Postseason 1982

Arena: The Spectrum (16,698)

Team Colors: Purple, Red & White

Owners:

MISL Championships: None

 

Philadelphia is just one of those cities.  During the Golden Age of sports start-ups in the 1970’s, it seemed like the city got a new franchise every six months, promoting some unfamiliar sport that momentarily grabbed a few headlines as The Sport of the Future.  Box lacrosse? Check.  World Team Tennis? Yep.  Professional women’s basketball?  For about six weeks.  The North American Soccer League?  Twice!  Every preposterous new league had to be in Philly and just about every neophyte owner insisted upon alliteration.  Between 1974 and 1979 the City of Brotherly Love became (briefly) acquainted with the Freedoms, the Firebirds, the Fox and the Fury to name just a few.

Or perhaps it was just that Philly had the buildings.  Lots of buildings.  For the well-heeled speculators, Philadelphia offered the world class Spectrum for indoor sports and multi-purpose Veterans Stadium for outdoor events.  And for the rogues gallery of flim flam men and drug traffickers who launched sports franchises in the city in that era, there was no shortage of decrepit fire traps like the Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia Civic Center and JFK Stadium available for short money.

The Philadelphia Fever joined the start-up Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) as one of six founding members in 1978.  The club set up shop at The Spectrum, competing with the 76ers and the Flyers for winter-time game dates and fan dollars.  The sport of indoor soccer was new on the national scene, but had a minor history in Philadelphia, where the defunct Philadelphia Atoms of the North American Soccer League had taken part in several well-attended indoor exhibitions at the Spectrum between 1974 and 1976.  In particular, a February 1974 Atoms match against a touring Soviet Red Army club had attracted nearly 12,000 fans and whetted the interest of the NASL in the indoor game.  But the NASL moved slowly and other entrepreneurs had taken notice as well, including Ed Tepper, owner of the Philadelphia Wings box lacrosse team that played at the Spectrum in 1974 and 1975 and Earl Foreman, a former minority shareholder in the Philadelphia Eagles and former owner of the Virginia Squires of the American Basketball Association.  Foreman and Tepper launched the MISL in 1978, announcing the league’s formation in October, just two months before kickoff of the first matches in December.

Philadelphia Fever Media GuideAll six MISL clubs had to scramble to put together rosters during the short ramp up to the league’s debut.  The New York Arrows and Houston Summit opted to lease rosters outright from nearby North American Soccer League clubs and finished with the best records in the league.  Philadelphia stocked their roster primarily with local semi-pro players, augmented by a handful of NASL veterans such as Joey Fink and Fred Grgurev.

The Fever squeaked into the final playoff spot with an 11-13 record, but found themselves in the best-of-three 1979 MISL Championship Series after upsetting the 18-6 regular season champion Houston Summit on the road.  The Fever lost the title to the New York Arrows in a two-game sweep.  Grgurev led the league in scoring with 46 goals in 24 games and was named to the All-MISL Team.

The Fever proved popular at the box office during the 1978-79 season,  leading the MISL with an announced attendance average of 7,737 for twelve home matches.

During the 1979-80 season, the Fever posted a franchise-best 17-15 record. However, they missed the playoffs by one game after losing a tie-breaker formula to the Buffalo Stallions.  Fever owner Ben Alexander fired Head Coach George O’Neil in August 1980.  Thus began a coachingroulette that bedeviled the remaining two years of the Fever’s existence.  MISL Coach-of-the-Year Len Bilous replaced O’Neill only to lose the job seven months later. Ex-Fever player Skip Roderick finished out the 1980-81 season behind the bench as the club dropped to 18-22. Former U.S. National Team chief Walt Chyzowych signed a three-year contract beginning with the 1981-82 season. He was fired after 25 games. Roderick stepped back in briefly before giving way to another former U.S. National Team coach, Mannfred Schellscheidt. The 1981-82 Fever finished with a league-worst 11-33 record under Chyzowych/Roderick/Schellscheidt.

The ownership of the Fever changed hands once. Paper manufactuer Ben Alexander sold controlling interest in the Fever to New Jersey businessman Joe Raymond in November 1981Raymond had been through the investment ringer with pro soccer once before, as owner of the semi-obscure New Jersey Americans in the American Soccer League during the late 1970’s.

Philadelphia FeverThe Fever’s popularity dropped off steeply in the early 1980’s. Attendance at the Spectrum from best in the six-team MISL in the 1978-79 debut season to worst in the expanded 13-club league during the club’s final campaign in 1981-82.  In an April 1982 Philadelphia Inquirer article, various Fever executives and players defended the club’s marketing. They pointed to the club’s losing ways as the culprit for waning interest in the club.  But this is a common excuse of faltering teams and the record does not bear it out.  Although the Fever qualified for the playoffs in only one season – their first – the team was at or near .500 in each of their five seasons with the exception of the last.  More likely, the Fever simply could not compete in the winter with both NBA and NHL competition.  The MISL’s best draws in cities like St. Louis, Kansas City, Cleveland and Baltimore competed with no more than one winter-time rival for media attention and the disposable income of local sports fans.

Joseph Raymond would own the Fever for less than one year after buying the club in November 1981.  The club reportedly lost in excess of $1 million during the 1981-82 season.  In the early summer, Raymond requested a one-year moratorium from the league to re-organize the club’s finances.  There was a precedent for such a move in the MISL. The Fever’s in-state rival the Pittsburgh Spirit went dark for the 1980-81 season before returning under new ownership for 1981-82.  Raymond’s request was granted at the MISL league meetings in August 1982 and the club’s best players departed for greener pastures.  In January 1983, the MISL announced the Raymond had given up his efforts to re-organize the club and handed his membership back to the league, effectively folding the club.

In the years since the Philadelphia Fever passed into oblivion, various reports have erroneously stated that Los Angeles Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the club in 1982 and relocated it to The Forum as the Los Angeles Lazers.  This is not correct.  Buss obtained an MISL expansion team in June of 1982.  Fever owner Joseph Raymond was granted a one-year leave of absence from the league around the same time Buss entered, which may account for the confusion.  But Raymond folded his club by returning it to the league in late 1982.  The Fever and the Lazers are two different franchises.

 

Philadelphia Fever Shop


Fever Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max

Philadelphia Fever Memorabilia

In Memoriam

One-time Fever head coach Walt Chyzowych passed away in 1994.  He was inducted into the United States Soccer Hall-of-Fame three years later in 1997.

 

Fever Video

The Philadelphia Fever at the New York Arrows in Game 1 of the 1979 MISL Championship Series via Kenn.com

 

Downloads

Philadelphia Fever sources

 

Links

Major Indoor Soccer League Media Guides

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

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