In the mid-1970s there was no more intimidating NHL venue than the Philadelphia Spectrum, no more bellicose team than the Flyers, whose reputation for scrapping seemed to demand of opponents, You want a piece of me?
Last Saturday that question was turned on its ear by Comcast-Spectacor, the group that owns the 43-year-old building that also formerly housed the 76ers. Figuring that Philadelphians would be eager to claim souvenirs before their venue's demolition later this month, they staged "If You Can Carry It, You Can Keep It," an event that proved to be part Wing Bowl, part Supermarket Sweep—and surprisingly peaceful given the setting and historically pugnacious fan base. For $25, patrons were allowed three hours to harvest items that ranged from the sentimental (sections of the rink boards and eight oversized letters from a SPECTRUM marquee) to the barely serviceable (dilapidated refrigerators and dust-caked TVs). Among the more than 1,000 people who showed up—some arriving as early as 10 o'clock the previous night—were Mike Warlow, 35, and Kyle Alves, 21, longtime Flyers fans from Toronto who had driven eight hours overnight to be among the first in line. Observed Alves, who picked up a pair of autographed stadium seats: "Mike [previously] bought a set for $400, so I got more than my money's worth."