Wednesday, January 18, 2017

How to Be a New York Basketball Fan In Dallas -- 2017 Edition

"I'm in hell!" – Morgan Freeman
"Worse: You're in Texas!" – Chris Rock
-- Nurse Betty

The New York Knicks on this coming Wednesday night, and the New York Knicks on Friday, March 10, will travel to face the Dallas Mavericks, in what Texas native Molly Ivins – frequently sarcastically – called The Great State.

An example of her writing: "In the Great State, you can get 5 years for murder, and 99 for pot possession." (I once sent the late, great newspaper columnist an e-mail asking if it could be knocked down to 98 years if you didn't inhale. Sadly, she never responded.)

If there is one thing that fans of 31 out of the 32 NFL teams can agree on, it's that they hate the Cowboys. Or, as is said from New York to San Francisco, from Seattle to Miami, and especially in Philadelphia and Washington, "Dallas Sucks!"

That hatred is considerably reduced in basketball. Aside from fans of the other Texas teams, the Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs, and possibly the Oklahoma City Thunder, I don't think anybody particularly hates the Mavericks. Their owner, Mark Cuban, maybe... although, in my book, he's the best thing about Dallas, because he angers people who deserve to be made angry.

Before You Go. It's not just The South, it's Texas. This is the State that elected George W. Bush, Rick Perry, Greg Abbott and Bill Clements Governor; Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Ron Paul and Louie Gohmert to the House of Representatives; and Phil Gramm and Ted Cruz to the Senate -- and thinks the rest of the country isn't conservative enough. This is the State where, in political terms, somebody like Long Island's conservative Congressman Peter King is considered a sissy. This is a State that thinks that poor nonwhites don't matter at all, and that poor whites only matter if you can convince them that, no matter how bad their life is, they're still better than the (slur on blacks) and the (slur on Hispanics).

So if you go to Dallas for this game, it would be best to avoid political discussions. And, for crying out loud, don't mention that, now over half a century ago, a liberal Democratic President was killed in Dallas. They might say JFK had it comin' 'cause he was a (N-word)-lovin' Communist. (Some people have included Clint Murchison, father of Clint Murchison Jr., the Cowboys' original owner, in the conspiracy theories, due to JFK's interest in eliminating a tax break known as the oil-depletion allowance.)

No. I'm not kidding.  I've never been to Texas, but I've seen enough Texans elsewhere, in actual meetings and on TV, to know that there are some of them who think like this -- and, among their own people, they will be less likely to hold back. So don't ask them what they think. About anything.

At any rate, before we go any further, enjoy Lewis Black's R-rated smackdown of Rick Perry and the State of Texas as a whole.

At least you'll be going in the winter, so you won't have to deal with the usual Texas heat and humidity. Still, before you go, check the websites of the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (the "Startle-gram") for the weather. Right now, they're talking about it being in the low 70s during daylight on Friday, but dropping to the high 40s by gametime. You may need to bring a jacket, but not a winter jacket.

Texas is in the Central Time Zone, 1 hour behind New York. (The exception is the southwestern corner, including El Paso, which borders New Mexico, so it's in the Mountain Time Zone.) Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Despite Texas' seeming foreignness (and that's before you factor in the Mexican-American influence, which improves things) and its embrace of its treasonous Confederate past, you don't need a passport to visit, and you don't need to change their money.

Tickets. The Mavericks are averaging 19,617 fans per home game last season, down from 20,120 last season. That's still an average of more than a sellout. Getting tickets will be tough.

In the Lower Level, the 100 sections, seats are $194 between the baskets and $77 behind them. In the Platinum Level, the 200 sections, they're $147 between and $84 behind. In the Upper Level, the 300 sections, they're far from the action, but a tremendous bargain: $19 between and just $9.00 behind.

Getting There. It is 1,551 miles from Midtown Manhattan to downtown Dallas. So unless you want to be cooped up for 24-30 hours, you... are... flying.

Nonstop flights from Newark, Kennedy or LaGuardia airports to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport could set you back as little as $334 round-trip. However, despite DFW being a major airline hub -- American Airlines has its corporate headquarters there -- you'll have to change planes, probably in Charlotte, North Carolina. United has nonstop flights, but it'll be closer to $600.

There is Orange Line rail service from the airport to Dallas' Union Station, but it will take about an hour and a half.
Dallas' Union Station

Amtrak offers the Lake Shore Limited (a variation on the old New York Central Railroad's 20th Century Limited), leaving Penn Station at 3:40 PM Eastern Time and arriving at Chicago's Union Station at 9:45 AM Central Time. Then switch to the Texas Eagle at 1:45 PM, and arrive at Dallas' Union Station (400 S. Houston Street at Wood Street) the following morning at 11:30. It would be $536 round-trip, and that's with sleeping in a coach seat, before buying a room with a bed on each train. That would push it close to $2,000.

As with American Airlines, Dallas is actually Greyhound's hometown, or at least the location of its corporate headquarters: 205 S. Lamar Street at Commerce Street, which is also the address of their Dallas station. If you look at Greyhound buses, you'll notice they all have Texas license plates. So, how bad can the bus be?

Well, it is cheaper: $424 round-trip, and advanced purchase can get it down to $314. But it won't be much shorter: It's a 40-hour trip, and you'll have to change buses at least twice, in Richmond, Virginia (and I don't like the Richmond station) and either Atlanta or Memphis.

Oh... kay. So what about driving? As I said, over 1,500 miles. I would definitely recommend bringing a friend and sharing the driving. The fastest way from New York to Dallas is to get into New Jersey, take Interstate 78 West across the State and into Pennsylvania, then turn to Interstate 81 South, across Pennsylvania, the "panhandles" of Maryland and West Virginia, and across the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into Tennessee, where I-81 will flow into Interstate 40. Take I-40 into Arkansas, and switch to Interstate 30 in Little Rock, taking it into the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, a.k.a. "The Metroplex." Between the forks of Interstate 35, I-30 is named the Tom Landry Freeway, after the legendary Cowboys coach.

Once you get across the Hudson River into New Jersey, you should be in New Jersey for about an hour, Pennsylvania for 3 hours, Maryland for 15 minutes, West Virginia for half an hour, Virginia for 5 and a half hours (more than the entire trip will be before you get to Virginia), 8 hours and 15 minutes in Tennessee, 3 hours in Arkansas, and about 3 hours and 45 minutes in Texas.

Taking 45-minute rest stops in or around (my recommendations) Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, on the Virginia/Tennessee State Line; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock and Texarkana, Arkansas; and accounting for overruns there and for traffic at each end of the journey, and we're talking 31 hours. So, leaving New York at around 7:00 Eastern Time on Saturday morning, you should be able to reach the Metroplex at around 1:00 Central Time on Sunday afternoon, giving you 2 hours before kickoff.

But it would be better to leave on Friday afternoon, reach the area on Saturday night, and get a hotel. Fortunately, AT&T Stadium is in Arlington, midway between the downtowns of Dallas and Fort Worth. Well before either the Rangers or the Cowboys set up shop in Arlington, Six Flags Over Texas did so, as the original theme park in the Six Flags chain (opening in 1961), and so there are plenty of hotels available nearby. They're also likely to be cheaper than the ones in downtown Dallas.

Once In the City. Dallas (population about 1,250,000, founded in 1856) was named after George Mifflin Dallas, a Mayor of Philadelphia and Senator from Pennsylvania who was James K. Polk's Vice President (1845-49). Fort Worth (about 800,000, founded in 1849) was named for William Jenkins Worth, a General in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. And Arlington (375,000, founded in 1876) was named for the Virginia city across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., as a tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The population of the entire Metroplex is about 6.8 million and climbing, although when you throw in Oklahoma, southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana, the total population of the Cowboys' "market" is about 19 million -- a little less than the New York Tri-State Area, and soon it will surpass us.

Commerce Street divides Dallas street addresses into North and South. Beckley Avenue, across the Trinity River from downtown, appears to divide them into East and West. The sales tax in the State of Texas is 6.25 percent, in Dallas County 8.25 percent, and in Tarrant County (including Arlington and Fort Worth) 8 percent even.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) runs buses and light rail trains. A 2-hour pass costs $2.50, and a day pass is $5.00 local and $10.00 regional (if you want to go beyond Dallas to Arlington or Fort Worth).
Green Line train just outside downtown

Going In. The NBA's Dallas Mavericks and the NHL's Dallas Stars play at the American Airlines Center, or the AAC. Not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena in Miami (which was really confusing when the Mavs played the Heat in the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals), it looks like a cross between a rodeo barn and an airplane hangar. It is 1 of 10 arenas that is currently home to both an NBA team and an NHL team.
The address is 2500 Victory Avenue, in the Victory Park neighborhood, 2 miles north of downtown, at the corner of Houston & Olive Streets. Bus 052 or Green Line to Victory station. If you drive in, parking can be had for as little as $5.00.

Since you're most likely to arrive from downtown, by either car or train, you're likely to enter from the south. The court runs northwest-to-southeast.
The arena opened in 2001, and has also been the Metroplex's major concert and pro wrestling center. It's also hosted the Big 12 Conference basketball tournament.

Food. Going along with the "Everything is big in Texas" idea, you would think that the Mavericks' arena would have lots of concession stands and big portions. You would also think they would rely heavily on Southwest and Tex-Mex food. They don't disappoint in those regards.

Going with the Southwest/Tex-Mex theme, they have stands labeled Grill Zone, High Steaks (a play on "high stakes" gambling), Stampede Station, Taco Bueno. There's a basketball-themed stand called Fast Break and a hockey-themed stand called Center Ice. They have a Pizza Hut, and as far as I know they have the only venue in North American major league sports with a 7-Eleven. As for locations within the arena, click this link.

Team History Displays. The Mavericks were founded in 1980, meaning that I can remember a time before they existed. Nevertheless, they have some history. Since the mid-1980s, they have been a Playoff contender more often than not, despite a horrible 1992-93 season in which they went 11-71, and flirted with the 1973 Philadelphia 76ers' record-worst 9-73.

They've won Division titles in 1987, 2007 and 2010. They've won the Western Conference title twice, in 2006 and 2011. Both times, they faced the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals, losing in 2006 but winning in 2011.
The Mavericks have retired 2 numbers, both from guards who played for them in their earliest days: 15, for Brad Davis; and 22, for Rolando Blackman. Once he retires, Dirk Nowitzki's 41 is sure to be added. Jason Kidd's 5 and Steve Nash's 13 could also be.

No man who played for the Mavericks was named to the NBA's 50th Anniversary 50 Greatest Players in 1996, although Don Nelson, who was soon to be named their head coach, was named to the 10 Greatest Coaches. Only 3 men who've played for the Mavericks have yet been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame, and, between them, they played what amounted to 3 full seasons, all near the ends of their careers: Alex English, Adrian Dantley and Dennis Rodman. Nelson has also been elected.

Almost certainly, Nowitzki will be elected, and Nash and Kidd also have good chances. Peja Stojakovic closed his career with the Mavs' 2011 title, and he could be elected to the Hall, but it would be based on what he did with the Sacramento Kings, who have retired his Number 16, which the Mavs almost certainly won't do, since he was there so briefly. Nash is the only basketball player yet elected to Canada's Walk of Fame.

Stuff. The AAC (American Airlines Center) Fan Shops can be found in Sections 100 and 103, on the Plaza concourse. A larger store, The Hangar, is on the south plaza of the arena. These stores may sell Western wear (actual "cowboy" clothing, including oversized Cowboy hats) with team logos in it.

You don't usually think of Dallas having much of a literary tradition -- or of Texans being functionally literate -- but there are a few books about the Mavericks. The sports staff of The Dallas Morning News put together the 2011 title tribute The Will To Win. Rob Mahoney wrote Mavericks Stampede: Dirk Leads Dallas to the 2011 NBA ChampionshipIn 2014, Bill Redban wrote Nowitzki's entry in the NBA's The Inspirational Story of Basketball Superstar... series.

Team owner Mark Cuban wrote How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It. And Sean Huff wrote the biography Mark Cuban: The Maverick BillionaireHe's so much of a "maverick" that the baseball establishment has stepped in to stop buying a team. He's already tried and failed to buy the Chicago Cubs and his hometown Pittsburgh Pirates. It's not that he doesn't have enough money: He certainly does. It's not that he wouldn't make even more money, for himself and the league, as an owner: He almost certainly would. It's not that he'd be unwilling to promote the sport: He would be. It's that he's not one of them, and never will be. (This is also why they won't let Hall-of-Famer Reggie Jackson lead a group to buy a team: His group has already tried and failed to buy 2 of the teams for whom he's played, the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.)

The NBA put out an official DVD retrospective of the 2011 Finals, which the Mavericks won for, so far, their only title.

During the Game. A November 13, 2014 article on DailyRotoHelp ranked the NBA teams' fan bases, and listed the Mavericks' fans at 8th, citing Cuban's commitment to keeping the team competitive, and being a fan draw himself, thus keeping them coming in. Taking into account the bandwagon factor that still infects Cowboys fandom, and Texans' natural affinity for football, the Mavs may be the most popular sports team within the Metroplex.

Dallas Mavericks fans don't like the Houston Rockets, or the San Antonio Spurs, or the Phoenix Suns, or the Oklahoma City Thunder, or the fans of any of those. They may not like New Yorkers, but they don't have any specific problems with Knicks or Nets fans. Wearing your team's gear probably won't get you in trouble.

And, this being a sports arena, you're gonna get searched, and so is everyone else, so Texas' infamously lenient gun laws will be rendered useless. You're not going to get shot. Even JFK and J.R. Ewing wouldn't have gotten shot at the American Airlines Center.

The Wednesday night game against the Knicks will be J.J. Barea Bobblehead Night. The March 10 game against the Nets will be Dirk Nowitzki Bobblehead Night.

The Mavericks hold auditions for singing the National Anthem, rather than having a regular singer. The group Bamface recorded a theme song for them, "Finishing What They Started." Unfortunately, their fans have no chant more interesting than, "Let's go, Mavs!"

The Mavericks have 2 mascots: A blue horse named Champ -- a maverick can be definied as "an unorthodox or independent-minded person," but also as "an unbranded calf (cow) or yearling (horse)" -- and Mavs Man, who appears to be a man made out of basketballs.
Champ and Mavs Man

After the Game. Dallas has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to crime, but you'll be pretty far from it. The Victory Park area, including the arena, is well-protected. As long as you don't make any snide remarks about the Mavericks or any liberal political pronouncements, safety will not be an issue.

Buffalo Joe's, at 3636 Frankford Avenue, is the local Giants fan bar. But it's 22 miles due north of downtown Dallas. Even further, the Cape Buffalo Grille, at 17727 Addison Road in Addison, 28 miles northeast of AT&T Stadium, has been described by a Giant fan as "a lifesaver for people from New York and New Jersey." Humperdink's, at 6050 Greenville Avenue in north Dallas, seems to be the local home of Jet fans.

If you visit Dallas during the European soccer season, as we are now in, the best-known "football pub" in town is Trinity Hall, at 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane, just off the SMU campus. Blue Line to Mockingbird Station.

Sidelights. Despite their new rapid-rail system, Dallas is almost entirely a car-friendly, everything-else-unfriendly city. Actually, it's not that friendly at all. It's a city for oil companies, for banks, for insurance companies, things normal Americans tend to hate. Despite its reputation for far-right political craziness, Texas still prides itself on its hospitality to visitors; and, as one Houston native once put it, "Dallas is not in Texas." In fact, most Texans, especially people from Fort Worth (and, to a slightly lesser extent, those from Houston) seem to think of Dallas the way the rest of America thinks of New York: They hate it, and they think that it represents all that is bad about their homeland. Until, that is, they need a win. Or money.

Before the AAC opened in 2001, the Mavericks and Stars both played at the Reunion Arena. This building hosted the 1984 Republican Convention, where Ronald Reagan was nominated for a 2nd term as President. To New York Tri-State Area fans, it is probably best remembered as the place where Jason Arnott's double-overtime goal won Game 6 and gave the New Jersey Devils the 2000 Stanley Cup over the defending Champion Stars. The 1986 NCAA Final Four, won by Louisville over Duke, was held there.
It was demolished in November 2009, 5 months before Texas Stadium was imploded. The arena didn't even get to celebrate a 30th Anniversary. 777 Sports Street at Houston Viaduct, downtown, a 10-minute walk from Union Station.

The Major League Soccer club FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) play at Toyota Stadium, at 9200 World Cup Way in the suburb of Frisco. It's 28 miles up the Dallas North Tollway from downtown, so forget about any way of getting there except driving. The U.S. soccer team has played there twice, both against Guatemala, a win and a loss.

The Dallas Sportatorium was built in 1935 to host professional wrestling, burned down in 1953 (legend has it that it was arson by a rival promoter), was rebuilt as a 4,500-seat venue, and continued to host wrestling even as it was replaced by larger arenas and fell into a rat-infested, crumbling decline, before a 2001 fire (this one was likely the result of the neglect, rather than arson) finally led to its 2003 demolition. Elvis Presley sang there early in his career, on April 16, May 29, June 18 and September 3, 1955. The site is now vacant. 1000 S. Industrial Blvd. at Cadiz Street, just south of downtown.

The Dallas Memorial Auditorium opened in 1957, and hosted some Chaparrals games. The Beatles played there on September 18, 1964. Elvis sang there on November 13, 1971; June 6, 1975; and December 28, 1976. It is now part of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, named for Texas' 1st female U.S. Senator. 650 S. Griffin Street, downtown.

Early in his career, Elvis sang at the Round Cup Club on April 16 and September 3, 1955. Unfortunately, the only listing I can find for a place in Dallas with that name now is a gay bar. I will bet you the amount of Elvis' fee in 1955 that this is not the same place.

Elvis also sang in Fort Worth, at the North Side Coliseum on May 29, 1955; and on January 20 and April 20, 1956. 123 E. Exchange Avenue, 3 miles northwest of downtown on Bus 1. He also sang at the Tarrant County Convention Center, now the Fort Worth Convention Center, on June 18, 1972; June 15 and 16, 1974; and June 3 and July 3, 1976. 1201 Houston Street. A short walk from the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center.

About 19 miles west of downtown Dallas, and 15 miles east of downtown Fort Worth, in Arlington, in Tarrant County, are the new homes of the Texas Rangers and the Dallas Cowboys.

Globe Life Ballpark (formerly known as The Ballpark In Arlington, AmeriQuest Field and Rangers Ballpark) is at 1000 Ballpark Way, off Exit 29 on the Landry Freeway. It sits right between Six Flags and AT&T Stadium. Across Legends Way from the ballpark is a parking lot where the original home of the Rangers, Arlington Stadium, stood from 1965 to 1993. It was a minor-league park called Turnpike Stadium before the announcement of the move of the team led to its expansion for the 1972 season. AT&T Stadium, the new home of the Cowboys, is at 1 AT&T Way. The 2 stadiums are 7/10ths of a mile apart.

Public transportation is a relatively new idea in Texas. While Dallas has built a subway and light rail system, and it has a bus service (get a Day Pass for $5.00), until recently, Arlington was the largest city in the country with no public transportation at all.

If you got a hotel near the various Arlington attractions, you're in luck: The Arlington Entertainment District Trolley goes to the area hotels and to the stadiums and theme parks. But if your hotel is in Dallas, you'll have to take Trinity Rail Express (TRE) to Centerport Station, and then transfer to bus 221, and take that to Collins & Andrew Streets. And even then, you'd have to walk over a mile down Collins to get to the stadium. The whole thing is listed as taking an hour and 50 minutes.

But at least it's now possible to get from Dallas to a Cowboy game and back without spending $50 on taxis. So how much is it? From Union Station to Centerport, each way, is $2.50. I don't know what the zones are for the bus, but a Day Pass is $5.00, meaning that getting there and back could top out at $10, which is reasonable considering the distance involved.

Originally named Cowboys Stadium, but nicknamed the Palace In Dallas, the Death Star, Jerry World and Jerr-assic Park, it has now hosted a Super Bowl, an NCAA Final Four (2014, Connecticut over Kentucky), some major prizefights and concerts, and, as mentioned, the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

It hosts several special college football games: The annual Cotton Bowl Classic, the annual Cowboys Classic, the annual Arkansas-Texas A&M game, the Big 12 Championship, and, on January 12, 2015, it hosted the 1st National Championship game in college football's playoff era: Ohio State 42, Oregon 20.

Mexico's national soccer team has now played there 6 times -- the U.S. team, only once (a CONCACAF Gold Cup win over Honduras in 2013). The national teams of Brazil and Argentina, Mexican clubs Club America and San Luis, and European giants Chelsea and Barcelona have also played there.

The Cowboys offer tours of this Texas-sized facility, which will make the new Yankee Stadium seem sensible by comparison.

Don't bother looking for the former home of the Cowboys, Texas Stadium, because "the Hole Bowl" was demolished in 2010. If you must, the address was 2401 E. Airport Freeway, in Irving. The Cowboys reached 7 Super Bowls, winning 5, while playing there, made their Thanksgiving Day home game an annual classic, and became "America's Team" there. So many games were broadcast from there that some people joked that CBS stood for Cowboys Broadcasting Service. SMU played some home games there, and the U.S. soccer team played there once, a 1991 loss to Costa Rica.

The Cowboys' 1st home, from 1960 to 1970, was the Cotton Bowl, which also hosted the Cotton Bowl game from 1937 to 2009, after which it was moved to AT&T Stadium. It also hosted the original NFL version of the Dallas Texans in 1952; the AFL's Dallas Texans from 1960 to 1962, before they moved and became the Kansas City Chiefs; some (but not all) home games of Southern Methodist University between 1932 and 2000; the Tornado in their 1967 and 1968 seasons' some games of soccer's 1994 World Cup, 7 U.S. soccer games, most recently a draw to Mexico in 2004; and an Elvis concert on October 11, 1956, the 20,000 fans being his biggest crowd until he resumed touring in 1970.

But it's old, opening in 1930, and the only thing that's still held there is the annual "Red River Rivalry" game between the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma, every 1st Saturday in October, and that's only because that's the weekend when the Texas State Fair is held, as the stadium is in Fair Park. (Just look for the statue of "Big Tex" -- you can't miss him.) While it doesn't seem fair that Oklahoma's visit to play Texas should be called a "neutral site" if it's in the State of Texas, the fact remains that each school gets half the tickets, and it's actually slightly closer to OU's campus in Norman, 191 miles, than it is from UT's in Austin, 197 miles. The address is 3750 The Midway.

Next-door is the African-American Museum of Dallas. 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd., in the Fair Park section of south Dallas. Bus 012 or 026, or Green Line light rail to Fair Park station. Be advised that this is generally considered to be a high-crime area of Dallas.

This year, the WNBA team formerly known as the Detroit Shock and the Tulsa Shock becomes the Dallas Wings, and begins play at the College Park Center. Opening in 2012, this 7,000-seat arena hosts the athletic teams of the University of Texas at Arlington. 601 S. Pecan Street, about 2 miles southwest of the Rangers' and Cowboys' stadiums. TRE to Centerport, MAX Bus to Center & Border.

The Major League Soccer club FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) play at Toyota Park at 9200 World Cup Way in the suburb of Frisco. It's 28 miles up the Dallas North Tollway from downtown, so forget about any way of getting there except driving. It hosted the MLS Cup Final in 2005 and 2006, and the U.S. soccer team has played there 3 times: A win and a loss against Guatemala, and a win this past July 7 against Honduras.

Before there was the Texas Rangers, and before the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs minor league team that opened Turnpike/Arlington Stadium in 1965, there were the Dallas team alternately called the Steers, the Rebels, the Eagles and the Rangers; and the Fort Worth Cats. Dallas won Texas League (Double-A) Pennants in 1926, 1929, 1941, 1946 and 1953. They played at Burnett Field, which opened in 1924, and was abandoned after the Dallas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats merged to become the Spurs in 1965. Currently, it's a vacant lot. 1500 E. Jefferson Blvd. at Colorado Blvd. Bus 011.

The Cats won TL Pennants in 1895, 1905, 1906, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1930, 1937, 1939 and 1948. Those 6 straight Pennants in the Twenties became a pipeline of stars for the St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1930 Pennant featured Dizzy Dean and a few other future members of the Cards' 1930s "Gashouse Gang."

The Cats played at LaGrave Field, the first version of which opened in 1900, and was replaced in 1926, again after a fire in 1949, and one more time in 2002, as a new Fort Worth Cats team began play in an independent league. 301 NE 6th Street. Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth Intermodal Transit Center, then Number 1 bus.

One more baseball-themed place in Texas that might interest a New York sports fan: Due to his cancer treatments and liver transplant, Mickey Mantle, who lived in Dallas during the off-seasons and after his baseball career, spent the end of his life at the Baylor University Medical Center. 3501 Junius Street at Gaston Avenue. Bus 019.

Merlyn Mantle died in 2009, and while it can be presumed that Mickey's surviving sons, Danny and David, inherited his memorabilia, I don't know what happened to their house, which (I've been led to believe) was in a gated community and probably not accessible to the public anyway; so even if I could find the address, I wouldn't list it here. (For all I know, one or both sons may live there, and I've heard that one of them -- Danny, I think -- is a Tea Party flake, and even if he wasn't, the family shouldn't be disturbed just because you're a Yankee Fan and their father was one of the Yankees.)

If you truly wish to pay your respects to this baseball legend: Mickey, Merlyn, and their sons Mickey Jr. and Billy are laid to rest at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. Also buried there are Tom Landry, tennis star Maureen Connolly, oil baron H.L. Hunt, Senator John Tower, Governor and Senator W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, bluesman Freddie King, actress Greer Garson and Mary Kay Cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash. 7405 West Northwest Highway at Durham Street. Red Line to Park Lane station, then 428 Bus to the cemetery.

If there's 2 non-sports things the average American knows about Dallas, it's that the city is where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and where Ewing Oil President J.R. Ewing was shot on March 21, 1980. Elm, Main and Commerce Streets merge to go over railroad tracks near Union Station, and then go under Interstate 35E, the Stemmons Freeway – that's the "triple underpass" so often mentioned in accounts of the JFK assassination.

The former Texas School Book Depository, now named The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, is at the northwest corner of Elm & Houston Streets, while the "grassy knoll" is to the north of Elm, and to the west of the Depository. Like Ford's Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and the area surrounding it in Washington, the area around Dealey Plaza is, structurally speaking, all but unchanged from the time the President in question was gunned down, an oddity in Dallas, where newer construction always seems to be happening. This enables movies to re-enact the shooting at the exact spot.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot in downtown Dallas and died, while John Ross Ewing Jr. was shot in downtown Dallas and lived. Where's the justice in that? J.R. was shot in his office at Ewing Oil's headquarters, which, in the memorable opening sequence of Dallas, was shown to be in the Renaissance Tower, at 1201 Elm Street, 6 blocks east of Dealey Plaza. The actual incident, however, was filmed on a Hollywood soundstage, so if you show up and ask to see J.R.'s office, you'll be out of luck.

In addition to the preceding locations, Elvis sang in North Texas:

* At the Carthage Milling Company in Carthage, 160 miles southeast of downtown Dallas, on November 12, 1955 (the night of the dance in Back to the Future).

* At the high school gymnasium in DeKalb, 150 miles northeast, on March 4, 1955.

* At Owl Park in Gainesville, 70 miles north, on Apirl 14, 1955.

* In Gilmer, 125 miles east, at the Rural Electrification Administration Building on January 26, 1955, and at Trinity High School on September 26, 1955.

* In Gladewater, 120 miles east, at the Mint Club on November 23 and Dcember 24, 1954, the high school gym on April 30 and November 19, 1955, and at the baseball park on August 10, 1955.

* The City Auditorium in Greenville, 50 miles northeast, on October 5, 1955.

* In Hawkins, 110 miles east, at the high school on December 20, 1954 and the Humble Oil Company Camp on January 24, 1955.

* In Henderson, 140 miles southeast, at the Rodeo Arena on August 9, 1955.

* In Joinerville, 130 miles southeast, at Gaston High School on January 28, 1955.

* At Driller Park in Kilgore, 120 miles east, on August 12, 1955.

* At the Reo Palm Isle Club in Longview, 130 miles east, on January 27, March 31, August 11 and November 18, 1955.

* At the American Legion Hall in Mount Pleasant, 120 miles northeast, on December 31, 1954.

* In New Boston, 150 miles northeast, at the Red River Arsenal on December 31, 1954, and at the high school, first at the gym on January 11, 1955, and then at the football stadium on June 6, 1955.

* At the Boys Club Gymnasium in Paris, 100 miles northeast, on October 4, 1955.

* At the Recreation Hall in Stephenville, 100 miles southwest, on July 4, 1955.

* At the Mayfair Building in Tyler, 100 miles southeast, on January 25, May 23 and August 8, 1955.

* At the Heart O Texas Coliseum (now the Extraco Events Center) in Waco, 100 miles south, on April 23, 1955, and April 17 and October 12, 1956.

* And in Wichita Falls, 140 miles northwest, at the M-B Corral on April 25, 1955, at Spudder Park on August 22, 1956, and at the Memorial Auditorium on January 19 and April 9, 1956.

The Renaissance Tower was Dallas' tallest building from 1974 to 1985. In real life, it is the headquarters for Neiman Marcus. Bank of America Plaza, a block away on Elm at Griffith Street, is now the tallest building in Dallas, at 921 feet, although not the tallest in Texas: There's 2 in Houston that are taller.

Dallas' most familiar structure -- aside from AT&T Stadium, the Texas School Book Depository and Dallas' Southfork Ranch -- is the Reunion Tower, 561 feet high, part of the Hyatt Regency complex. 300 Reunion Blvd. at Young Street, just to the west of Union Station and to the southwest of Dealey Plaza.

The real Southfork Ranch is at 3700 Hogge Drive (that's pronounced "Hoag") in Parker, 28 miles northeast of the city. (Again, you'll need a car.) It's not nearly as old as the Ewing family's fictional history would suggest: It was built in 1970, only 8 years before the series premiered. It's now a conference center, and, like the replica of the Ponderosa Ranch that Lorne Greene had built to look like his TV home on Bonanza, it is designed to resemble the Ewing family home as seen on both the original 1978-91 series and the 2012-14 revival. It is open to tours, for an admission fee of $9.50.

Dallas values bigness, but unless you count Southfork and Dealey Plaza, it isn't big on museums. The best known is the Dallas Museum of Art, downtown at 1717 N. Harwood Street at Flora Street. Nearby is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, named for ol' H. Ross himself, at 2201 N. Field Street at Broom Street.

The Dallas area is also home to 2 major football-playing colleges: Southern Methodist University in north Dallas, which, as alma mater of Laura Bush, was chosen as the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library; and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

SMU played at Ownby Stadium (when not playing at the Cotton Bowl) from 1926 to 1998. The Dallas Tornado of the old North American Soccer League also played there from 1976 to 1979. It was demolished, and replaced with the 32,000-seat Gerald F. Ford stadium. (No relation to the 1974-77 President who'd been a star center on the University of Michigan football team, this Gerald Ford is a billionaire banker who gave $42 million of his own money to build it.) 5800 Ownby Drive.

The Bush Library is at 2943 SMU Blvd. & North Central Expressway, a 5-minute walk from Ford Stadium, Moody Coliseum, and the university bookstore, which, like so many university bookstores, is a Barnes & Noble (not named for Dallas character Cliff Barnes).

SMU is also home to Moody Coliseum, home court of their basketball team. The Dallas Chaparrals played ABA games there from 1967 until 1973, when they became the San Antonio Spurs. 6024 Airline Road. All SMU locations can be accessed by the Blue or Red Line to Mockingbird Station.
Moody Coliseum

SMU has produced players like Doak Walker, Forrest Gregg, Dandy Don Meredith, and the "Pony Express" backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James (both now TV-network studio analysts), while TCU has produced Slingin' Sammy Baugh, Jim Swink and Bob Lilly. Both schools have had their highs and their lows, and following their 1987 "death penalty" (for committing recruiting violations while already on probation), and their return to play in 1989 under Gregg as coach, SMU are now what college basketball fans would call a "mid-major" school.

Ironically, TCU, normally the less lucky of the schools, seriously challenged for the 2009, 2010 and 2014 National Championships, but their own "mid-major" schedule doomed them in that regard. TCU's Amon G. Carter Stadium hosted the U.S. soccer team's 1988 loss to Ecuador. 2850 Stadium Drive. Trinity Rail Express to Fort Worth Intermodal Station, transfer to Bus 7 to University & Princeton, then walk 6 blocks west.

Aside from Dallas, TV shows that have shot in, or been set in, the Dallas area include Walker, Texas Ranger, Prison Break, the new series Queen of the South (based on a Mexican telenovela), and the ridiculous, short-lived ABC nighttime soap GCB (which stood for "Good Christian Bitches").

Movies about, or involving, the JFK assassination usually have to shoot in Dallas, including the 1983 NBC miniseries Kennedy with Martin Sheen, JFK, Love Field, Ruby, Watchmen, LBJ (with Bryan Cranston as the Texan who succeeded him), and the Hulu series 11/22/63, based on Stephen King's fantasy novel.

Other movies shot in the city include the 1962 version of State Fair, Bonnie and Clyde, Mars Needs Women, Logan's Run, The Lathe of Heaven, Silkwood, Tender Mercies, Places in the Heart, The Trip to Bountiful, Born on the Fourth of July, Problem Child, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys
(about actual cowboys, not the football team), The Apostle, Boys Don't Cry, Dallas Buyers Club, the football films Necessary Roughness and Any Given Sunday, and, of course, the porno classic Debbie Does Dallas.

However, it might surprise you to know that RoboCop, which was set in a Detroit that was purported to be in a near future when the city was even worse than it then was in real life, was filmed in Dallas. What does that say about Dallas? (To me, it says, "This is another reason why Dallas sucks.")


Texas is a weird place, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is no exception. But it's a pretty good area for sports, and it even seems to have finally embraced baseball as something more than something to do between football seasons.

If you can afford it, go, and help your fellow Knicks or Nets fans make the Mavericks feel like they’re in the Big Apple. But remember to avoid using the oft-heard phrase "Dallas Sucks." The city does, the team doesn't. At any rate, in this case, keep the truth to yourself!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

How Long It's Been: The Dallas Cowboys Reached a Super Bowl

In 2013, to promote is new coverage of English soccer's Premier League, NBC had Jason Sudeikis play Ted Lasso, a former NFL coach who had been hired to manage that other "football," specifically North London's Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

Like pretty much everything associated with "Spurs," it was laughable, and he didn't last long. Part of his "learning curve" was learning to associate teams in his new league with teams in his old one:

Assistant: "Manchester United. Super-rich. Everybody either loves them or hates them."
Ted: "Dallas Cowboys."
Assistant: "Liverpool. Used to be great. Haven't won a title in a really long time."
Ted: "Also, Dallas Cowboys."

And the Cowboys got knocked out of the Playoffs over this weekend, losing a thriller at home to the Green Bay Packers, the real "America's Team."

Cowboy fans who talked smack online all season long look like idiots now. I mean, more so than usual. The last time their team won a Super Bowl, it was rather hard to talk smack online, because the Internet was pretty much just message boards.

The Cowboys haven't even played in a Super Bowl since January 28, 1996. That's about to be 21 years. How long has that been?


Barry Switzer was coaching a team led by "The Triplets": Quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, and receiver Michael Irvin. Other stars included Nate Newton, Larry Allen, Mark Tuinei, Jay Novacek, Darrell "Moose" Johnston, Charles Haley, Russell Maryland, Deion Sanders, Darren Woodson, and... Leon Lett? "Not Leon Lett!"

Aikman, Irvin, Novacek, Johnston and Sanders are all now part of NFL broadcast teams. Aikman, Smith, Irvin and Sanders are now in he Pro Football Hall of Fame. Aikman, Smith and Irvin are also in the Cowboys' Ring of Honor.

The Denver Broncos, the Los Angeles Rams (then in their St. Louis sojourn), the Cleveland Browns franchise that was in the process of becoming the Baltimore Ravens, the New England Patriots, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Seattle Seahawks, the Colts since moving to Indianapolis, and the New Orleans Saints had never won a Super Bowl. The Patriots, the Browns/Ravens, the Buccaneers, the Seahawks, the Indy version of the Colts, the Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, the Tennessee Titans (having just completed their next-to-last season as the Houston Oilers), the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals had never even been in one. All those facts are now untrue.

The Cowboys were playing in Texas Stadium in Irving. The Pittsburgh Steelers, whom they beat, were playing in Three Rivers Stadium. Both have moved to new stadiums, and their old ones have been demolished. Super Bowl XXX was played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. While Arizona State University still plays football there, the Cardinals have moved to the other side of the Phoenix suburbs, to Glendale, and have hosted 2 Super Bowls there.

Of the 30 teams playing in the 1995-96 NFL season, only 7 are still playing in the same stadiums: Buffalo, Green Bay, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans and Oakland. (That doesn't count the Chargers, now in the process of moving from San Diego to Los Angeles.)

Early NFL legends Sammy Baugh, Don Hutson and Sid Luckman were still alive. Ray Lewis, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were in college. Drew Brees, Tony Romo, Eli Manning, Troy Polamalu and Ben Roethlisberger were in high school. Aaron Rodgers was 12 years old, Clay Matthews and Ndamukong Suh were 9, Richard Sherman was about to turn 8, Russell Wilson was 7; Cam Newton, Rob Gronkowski and Andrew Luck were 6; Odell Beckham Jr. and Johnny Manziel were 3, and Marcus Mariota was 2. Derek Jeter had 12 hits in his major league career, LeBron James was 11, and Sidney Crosby was 8.

Current Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was Aikman's backup as Cowboys quarterback. Todd Bowles was an assistant with the Packers, Ben McAdoo was attending Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Terry Collins was managing the Houston Astros, Joe Girardi was playing for the Yankees, Jeff Hornacek was playing for the Utah Jazz, Kenny Atkinson was playing in Spain's basketball league, Alain Vignault was an assistant coach with the Ottawa Senators, Jack Capuano was an assistant coach with the Tallahassee Tiger Sharks, and John Hynes was playing at Boston University.

In winning their 3rd title in a span of 4 years -- it remains a unique feat since the beginning of the Super Bowl era -- the Cowboys dethroned the San Francisco 49ers as NFL Champions. The other titleholders at that point were the New Jersey Devils, the Atlanta Braves and the Houston Rockets. The Heavyweight Champion of the World was... well, it was Bruce Seldon according to the WBA, Frank Bruno according to the WBC, and the title was vacant according to the IBF, last held by the second coming of George Foreman. There was no current holder of the MLS Cup, as MLS was still 3 months away from beginning its 1st season.

The Olympic Games have since been held in America twice, Japan, Australia, Greece, Italy, China, Canada, Britain, Russia and Brazil. The World Cup has since been held in France, Japan, Korea, Germany, South Africa and Brazil.

Bill Clinton was beginning his campaign for a 2nd term as President. Conservatives were obsessing over Hillary Clinton's paper documents. Former Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, their wives, and the widow of Lyndon Johnson were all still alive. (Both Fords, both Reagans, and Lady Bird Johnson have since died.) George W. Bush was in his 1st term as Governor of Texas. Barack Obama was practicing law with the Chicago firm of Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland. And Donald Trump, while not screwing over anybody he could with his businesses, was still cheating on his 2nd wife, Marla Maples. Melania Knauss was still modeling in Milan and Paris, and may not even have met her future husband yet.

The Mayor of Dallas was Ron Kirk. Current Mayor Mike Rawlings was then Chairman of the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau. The Governor of the State of New York was George Pataki. The Mayor of the City of New York was Rudolph Giuliani. The Governor of New Jersey was Christine Todd Whitman. Andrew Cuomo was Assistant Secretary of Housing & Urban Development.

Only 4 of the Justices on the Supreme Court then are still on it now: Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer. The current holder of the Nobel Peace Prize was Joseph Rotblat, a Polish physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb, then spent the last 60 years of his life working to prevent its use. The Pope was John Paul II. The Prime Minister of Canada was Jean Chretien, and of Britain John Major. Queen Elizabeth II was on the throne, and she still is. Blackburn Rovers were the holders of the Premier League title, and Everton of the FA Cup.

Major novels of 1996 included several political stories, in anticipation of the year's Presidential election: Absolute Power by David Baldacci, Executive Orders by Tom Clancy, and Primary Colors, a barely-veiled portrait of Bill Clinton's 1992 New Hampshire Primary campaign, whose author was originally listed as simply "Anonymous," but was later revealed to be Newsweek reporter Joe Klein.

Other big novels of the year included The Fourth Estate by Jeffrey Archer, Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding, The Runaway Jury by John Grisham, The Green Mile by Stephen King, Intensity by Dean R. Koontz, How Stella Got Her Groove Back by Terry McMillan, We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates, Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, Jeff Shaara's Civil War story Gods and Generals, and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. (Oops, I talked about it.)

The 1st book in George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which gave its name to the TV series covering all the books in it: A Game of Thrones. Natalie Dormer was about to turn 14. Richard Madden, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington were 9, and Rose Leslie was about to be 9. Jack Gleeson was 3, Sophie Turner would be born 24 days later, Maisie Williams 15 months later, and Dean-Charles Chapman 20 months later. The Harry Potter books had yet to be published. Daniel Radcliffe was 6, and Emma Watson was 5.

January 1996 was not a good month for movies: It saw the release of Dunston Checks In, Bio-Dome, From Dusk till Dawn, and the parody of gangsta rap movies Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. Television saw the debuts of 3rd Rock from the Sun on NBC, Moesha on UPN, and the much-mocked "glow puck" on Fox Sports' hockey broadcasts. Aside from Robert Kardashian Sr., part of O.J. Simpson's recent defense team, none of the Kardashians were famous yet: Kourtney was 16, Kim was 15, Khloe as 11, Rob as 8, Kendall Jenner was 3 months old, and Kylie Jenner wasn't born yet.

Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men had the Number 1 song in America with "One Sweet Day." Lisa Marie Presley filed for divorce from Michael Jackson, although they remained friends for the rest of his life. Jamaican authorities, mistaking it for that of a drug trafficker, open fire on a plane carrying Bono and Jimmy Buffett; it lands safely, with no injuries. Jonathan Larson died at age 35 of an undetected heart defect, just 1 day after his musical Rent was to have its 1st public performance, which went forward anyway. Kid Rock released his debut album, Early Mornin' Stoned Pimp. (He sure looked stoned on the cover.)

Stana Katic, Katie Holmes, Heath Ledger, Pink, Michelle Williams (both of them), Ben Savage, Christina Aguilera, Alicia Keys, Hayden Christensen, Jessica Alba, Natalie Portman, Chris Evans, Beyonce Knowles, Britney Spears, Sienna Miller, Kate Middleton, Hayley Atwell and Kirsten Dunst were in high school. Matt Smith, Anne Hathaway and Andrew Garfield were in junior high. Lady Gaga and Drake were 9 years old, Kevin Jonas was 8, Rihanna and Emma Stone were 7, Joe Jonas was 6, Sarah Hyland was 5, Louis Tomlinson was 4; Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Miley Cyrus, Nicki Minaj and Zayn Malik were 3; Ariana Grande, Liam Payne and Niall Horan were 2, and Harry Styles and Justin Bieber were about to turn 2; and Abigail Breslin, Ariel Winter, Rico Rodriguez and Nolan Gould weren't born yet.

A U.S. postage stamp was 32 cents, and a New York Subway token -- or a single ride on the newly-developed MetroCard -- was $1.50. Dallas doesn't have a subway, but since 1996, it has developed a light rail system. The average price of a gallon of gas was $1.32, a cup of coffee $1.79, a McDonald's meal (Big Mac, fries and shake) $4.11, a movie ticket $4.42, a new car $13,600, and a new house $118,200. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed the preceding Friday at 5271.75.

The first tablet computer was about to be released. But, as yet, there was no Wikipedia, no iPod, no Skype, no MySpace, no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter, no Tumblr, no iPhone, no Pinterest, no Instagram, no iPad, and no Vine. Motorola had just introduced the Motorola StarTAC Wearable Cellular Telephone, the world's smallest and lightest mobile phone to date. Finally, instead of clipping a mobile phone onto your belt, you could fit on in your pocket. But you still couldn't access the fledgling Internet from your phones.

At the beginning of 1996, 30 inches of snow were dumped on the Northeast, a storm that killed over 150 people. Fighting broke out between Russian soldiers and rebel fighters in Chechnya. Coup took place in the African nations of Sierra Leone and Niger. Haiti, on the other hand, has its 1st-ever peaceful transfer of power. And Amber Hagerman, age 9, was murdered in Arlington, Texas, not far from where the Texas Rangers played and where the Cowboys would move in 2009; she became the namesake of the AMBER Alert system.

Francois Mitterand, and Gene Kelly, and Superman creator Jerry Siegel died. Sasha Pieterse, and Tyler Ulis, and D'Angelo Russell were born.

January 28, 1996. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 at Sun Devil Stadium, to win Super Bowl XXX, their 3rd World Championship in 4 years, and the 5th World Championshipin their history.

They have never even been to another Super Bowl. In the 21 years since, the Dallas Mavericks have been to 2 NBA Finals, winning 1; the Dallas Stars have been to 2 Stanley Cup Finals, winning 1; FC Dallas have been founded, won 2 U.S. Open Cups, and reached an MLS Cup Final; and the Texas Rangers have won 2 Pennants, although they haven't won a World Series, but at least they've been to their sport's finals.

AT&T Stadium, the new Arlington home of the Cowboys, hosted Super Bowl XLV on February 6, 2011, and many Cowboys fans thought that they would become the 1st team ever to play a Super Bowl on its own field. It didn't happen.

Since Super Bowl XXX, the title has been won by the New England Patriots 4 times, the Denver Broncos 3 times, the Green Bay Packers twice (including the one in Arlington), the Baltimore Ravens twice, the Pittsburgh Steelers twice, the New York Giants twice, and once each by the Rams (then in St. Louis), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Indianapolis Colts, the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks.

But for 21 years, the Cowboys haven't even been to one. That means, come January 28, 2017, just 11 days from now, a person born on the day the Cowboys last won it can legally buy a drink and toast the Cowboys' entire generation of failures.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Living People Who...

R.I.P. Gene Cernan, retired U.S. Navy Captain, commander of Apollo 17, and thus the last man to walk on the Moon. 1934-2017.

Living People Who...

* Walked on the Moon: 6 of the 12: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Alan Bean (Apollo 12), David Scott (Apollo 15), John Young and Charles Duke (Apollo 16), and Harrison Schmitt (Apollo 17). Duke is the youngest. He's 81.

* Survived the attack on Pearl Harbor: Unclear, but it could be around the number who died there: 2,403.

* Played in what we would now call Major League Baseball in the 1930s: 1: Bobby Doerr, Hall of Fame 2nd baseman for the Boston Red Sox.

* Played on World Series-winning teams in the 1940s: 5: Ed Mierkowicz of the 1945 Detroit Tigers, Red Schoendienst of the 1946 St. Louis Cardinals, Bobby Brown of the 1947 and 1949 New York Yankees, Eddie Robinson of the 1948 Cleveland Indians, and Charlie Silvera of the 1949 Yankees.

* Played in the All-America Football Conference of 1946-49: As far as I know, only 1: Ben Agajanian, who preceded Tom Dempsey as a man who placekicked professionally without a full complement of toes. He was also 1 of 2 men, Hardy Brown being the other, to play in the AAFC, the NFL and the 1960s version of the American Football League. And he played for a Los Angeles team in all 3: The 1947 and '48 Dons, the 1953 Rams, and the 1960 Chargers. He won an NFL Championship with the 1956 New York Giants. He was still kicking in 1964, with the Chargers in San Diego, at age 45, and is now 97.

* Won the Heisman Trophy in the 1940s: 1: Johnny Lujack, Notre Dame, 1947. The next-earliest is Howard "Hopalong" Cassady, Ohio State, 1955.

* Played on NFL Championship teams in the 1940s: 5: Charlie Trippi of the 1947 Chicago Cardinals; Neill Armstrong (no relation to the 1st man on the Moon), Bill Mackrides and Jack Myers of the 1948 and 1949 Philadelphia Eagles; and Clyde Scott of the 1949 Eagles.

* Played on NBA Championship teams in the 1940s: 3: Carl Meinhold of the 1948 Baltimore Bullets, and Arnie Ferrin and Donnie Forman of the 1949 Minneapolis Lakers.

* Played on Stanley Cup-winning teams in the 1940s: 4: Gerry Plamondon of the 1946 Montreal Canadiens; Howie Meeker of the 1947, 1948 and 1949 Toronto Maple Leafs; Phil Samis of the 1948 Toronto Maple Leafs; and Tod Sloan of the 1949 Toronto Maple Leafs.

* Played on FA Cup-winning teams in the 1940s: 1: Reg Harrison of the 1946 Derby County squad. The next-earliest survivor is Cyril Robinson, the last survivor of the 1953 Blackpool team that featured Stanley Matthews and Stan Mortensen.

* Played on the U.S. team that beat England at the 1950 World Cup: 1: Walter Bahr, whose sons Matt and Chris were placekickers on Super Bowl-winning teams.

* Played in "The Bobby Thomson Game" on October 3, 1951: 2: Willie Mays of the New York Giants and Don Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

* Played in "The Don Larsen Game" on October 8, 1956: 1: Don Larsen himself.

* Played on World Cup winners in the 1950s: 4: Horst Eckel and Hans Schaefer of the "Miracle of Bern" West Germany team in 1954, and Mario Zagallo and Pelé of 1958 Brazil.

* Played on the 1st team to win the European Cup (the trophy kept the name, but the tournament is now called the UEFA Champions League), 1956 Real Madrid: 1: Francisco Gento. "Paco" Gento is also the only man to win the European Cup 6 times.

* Have won baseball's Triple Crown: 3: Frank Robinson, Carl Yastrzemski and Miguel Cabrera.

* Managed or coached teams in the New York Tri-State Area to a World Championship: the Yankees to World Series wins: 7: Davey Johnson of the 1986 Mets; Bill Parcells of the 1986 and 1990 Giants; Mike Keenan of the 1994 Rangers; Jacques Lemaire of the 1995 New Jersey Devils; Joe Torre of the 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 Yankees; Larry Robinson of the 2000 Devils; and Joe Girardi of the 2009 Yankees. That's it. Gil Hodges of the Mets, Weeb Ewbank of the Jets, Red Holzman of the Knicks, and Al Arbour of the Islanders are all dead.

* Managed Arsenal Football Club to major trophies: 3: Terry Neill, George Graham and Arsene Wenger. Between them, 16 trophies.

* Managed Tottenham Hotspur Football Club to major trophies: 4: Keith Burkinshaw, Terry Venables, George Graham (yes, the same one) and Juande Ramos. Between them, 6 trophies.

* Served as regular hosts of The Tonight Show: 3: Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon. And Conan shouldn't even count.

* Appeared on The Honeymooners: As far as I know, only 1: Joyce Randolph, who played Trixie Norton. Even the child actors from the show have since died.

* Served as President of the United States: 5: Jimmy Carter, both George Bushes, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Come noon this Friday... that number will still be 5. Donald Trump may have the trappings of the office, but he sure as hell won't be serving anybody but himself. And maybe Vladimir Putin.

* Served as Prime Minister of Canada: 7: Joe Clark, John Turner, Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Stephen Harper and Justin Trudeau.

* Served as Prime Minister of Britain: 5: John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May. All under 1 monarch, of course, Queen Elizabeth II, who has had 13 different PMs (not counting Harold Wilson, who lost the office to Edward Heath and then got it back).

* Served as Governor of the State of New York: 4: George Pataki, Eliot Spitzer, David Paterson and Andrew Cuomo.

* Served as Mayor of the City of New York: 4: David Dinkins, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio. de Blasio is up for re-election this year, although it's not yet clear who his Republican opponent will be. Regardless, it will be a tough fight, as "Blaz" is not nearly as popular as he was 4 years ago.

* Served as Governor of New Jersey: 8: Brendan Byrne, Tom Kean Sr., Jim Florio, Christine Todd Whitman, Jim McGreevey, Richard Codey, Jon Corzine and Chris Christie. This doesn't count the brief holders of the office when the preceding had to leave the State, or in the weird situation between Codey and Corzine due to McGreevey's resignation. Tom Kean Jr. is believed to be running for the Republican nomination for Governor this year, but he hasn't announced yet. Based solely on name recognition, he's got a chance. For the same reason, so does Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno, also a Republican. So does Democrat Phil Murphy, due to his incessant TV commercials and mailings.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

January 15, 1967: 50 Years Since Super Bowl I

January 15, 1967, 50 years ago today: The 1st AFL-NFL World Championship Game is held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, between the Champions of the American Football League, their founding franchise, the Kansas City Chiefs; and the Champions of the National Football League, their most successful franchise with 10 Championships, the Green Bay Packers. It is the beginning of the competitive phase of the merger between the 2 leagues, which had battled since 1960.

Lamar Hunt, founder of the AFL and founding owner of the Chiefs, claimed he'd seen his children playing with a little rubber ball, marketed as a "Super Ball." So he suggested that the Game be called "the Super Bowl." The name stuck, and in 1969, it was made official. It wasn't until 1971 that the Roman numerals came into effect: Super Bowl V. The 1st 4 were retroactively renamed Super Bowl I, Super Bowl II, Super Bowl III and Super Bowl IV.

Super Bowl 50 -- presumably given the actual number because the Roman numeral for 50 is "L," and, in football, "L" means "loss" -- was played last February 7, at Levi's Stadium in the San Francisco suburb of Santa Clara. The Denver Broncos won it.

The L.A. Coliseum should've hosted Super Bowl 50, or at least Super Bowl LI (to be played this coming February 6, at NRG Stadium in Houston), to celebrate the anniversary. But the NFL wants that skybox revenue, which the Coliseum just doesn't have. And so the Super Bowl, last played in the L.A. area in 1993 (Super Bowl XXVII), at the Rose Bowl in suburban Pasadena, won't return until February 7, 2021 (Super Bowl LV, at the new Los Angeles Rams stadium, currently under construction and named City of Champions Stadium, in suburban Inglewood).


The University of Arizona Marching Band created a physical outline of the United States at midfield, and the drill team from nearby Anaheim High School placed banners of each NFL and AFL team at their corresponding location on the map. The University of Michigan band played the National Anthem. And the Bell Rocket Air Men, wearing early jetpacks, demonstrated before the game as well.

The band from Grambling State University, the famous black college of northern Louisiana, played at halftime, as did another Louisiana legend, jazz trumpeter Al Hirt. There were no cheerleaders, but the Los Angeles Ramettes, an all-ladies drumline, played before the game and after every quarter.

Referee Norm Schachter carried out the ceremonial pregame coin toss, without assistance from a celebrity, as has been done since Super Bowl XII. The heavily favored Packers won the toss, and Mike Mercer of the Chiefs kicked off at 1:15 PM Pacific Time -- 4:15 in the East. It was, typically for Los Angeles, even in Winter, 72 degrees and sunny.

The Packers did not score on their opening possession. They did, however, produce the 1st score, as Bart Starr threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Max McGee with 6:04 left in the 1st quarter. Don Chandler kicked the extra point, and it was Packers 7, Chiefs 0.
Starr, barking signals. Yes, that's a single-bar facemask.

The Chiefs tied the game early in the 2nd quarter, as Len Dawson threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Curts McClinton, followed by an extra point by Mercer. Each team would score again before the half was out: Jim Taylor on a 14-yard run for Green Bay, Mercer on a 31-yard field goal. The score at the half: Packers 14, Chiefs 10. The AFL Champions were very much still in the game.

The AFL Champions did not score again. So much has been made of the Green Bay offense (with Hall-of-Famers Starr, Taylor and Forrest Gregg, with Hall-of-Famer Paul Hornung injured and unable to play) that their defense (with Hall-of-Famers Willie Davis, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley and Willie Wood) often gets overlooked. But the Chiefs (whose Hall-of-Famers included Len Dawson on offense and Buck Buchanan, Bobby Bell and Willie Lanier on defense) would not score again until the 1967 AFL season dawned.

The Packers added touchdowns at each end of the 3rd quarter, with Elijah Pitts (father of Fox NFL sideline reporter Ron Pitts) scoring on a 5-yard run, and McGee catching a 13-yard pass from Starr. With 6:35 left in the game, Pitts scored again, a 1-yard run. Chandler made all 3 PATs. Final score: Packers 35, Chiefs 10.

Pat Summerall of CBS (which had the NFL's television contract) and George Ratterman of NBC (which had the AFL's), both former players, handled the postgame trophy celebration, forced to share a microphone. Packer coach and general manager (not a part-owner, but effectively controlling the team as if he were the owner) Vince Lombardi received the silver trophy made by Tiffany that would, just 4 years later, following his early death from cancer, bear his name. Starr was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Rozelle presents Lombardi with the Trophy

Despite both networks having aired the game live, neither CBS nor NBC has a complete videotape copy of the game. Videotape was expensive, and the game was simply taped over. Some pieces of videotape of the game have been found, and have been combined with surviving radio broadcasts and the footage that NFL Films (which, smartly, also got the AFL's permission to record their games) has of the game, to produce a full play-by-play.

This was also the only Super Bowl that was not a sellout: Although the Coliseum seated over 93,000 people (an exact figure is hard to pin down), only 61,946 people paid to see it. They paid $12 for any seat, about $87 in today's money. Even by today's regular-season NFL standards, that's cheap. (You want to see Super Bowl LI next month? Be prepared to pay over $1,000, no matter which source you go to.)


The Chiefs did recover, and after the Packers also won Super Bowl II over the Oakland Raiders, and the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in the most stunning upset in pro football history, the Chiefs beat the Minnesota Vikings to win Super Bowl IV on January 11, 1970. Clearly, Super Bowl III was an upset not because the NFL was so much better than the AFL, but because the Packers were so good.
Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and head coach Hank Stram,
and NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, at Super Bowl IV,
at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans

From the Kansas City Chiefs' starting lineup in Super Bowl I:

* Deceased: Offensive tackle Jim Tyrer, depressed over a business failure, shot his wife and then killed himself in 1980; defensive tackle Buck Buchanan died in 1992; defensive end Jerry Mays died in 1994; head coach Hank Stram and punter Jerrel Wilson died in 2005; owner Lamar Hunt died in 2006; linebacker Sherrill Headrick died in 2008; center Wayne Frazier died in 2012; and general manager Jack Steadman and defensive end Chuck Hurston died in 2015.

* Still alive: Quarterback Len Dawson and kicker Mike Mercer are 81; linebacker E.J. Holub is 79; split end Chris Burford is about to turn 79; guard Curt Merz, tight end Fred Arbanas, safety Johnny Robinson and cornerback-turned-actor Fred "the Hammer" Williamson are 78; running back Curtis McLinton is 77; guard Ed Budde, defensive tackle Andy Rice, linebacker Bobby Bell, cornerback Willie Mitchell and safety Bobby Hunt are 76; offensive tackle Dave Hill is about to turn 76; flanker Otis Taylor is 74; and running back Mike Garrett (the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner at USC) is 72.

From the Green Bay Packers' starting lineup (plus Hornung and McGee):

* Deceased: Head coach and general manager Vince Lombardi died of cancer in 1970; defensive tackle Henry Jordan died of a heart attack while jogging in 1977; defensive tackle Ron Kostelnik died in 1993; linebacker Lee Roy Caffey died in 1994; running back Elijah Pitts, defensive end Lionel Aldridge and linebacker Ray Nitschke died in 1998; Max McGee, who entered the game early when Boyd Dowler was hurt, died in 2007; cornerback Bob Jeter died in 2008; placekicker and punter Don Chandler died in 2011; and guard Fred "Fuzzy" Thurston died in 2014.

* Still alive: Quarterback Bart Starr and offensive tackle Forrest Gregg are 83; offensive tackle Bob Skoronski and defensive end Willie Davis are 82; running backs Paul Hornung (who was injured and didn't play) and Jim Taylor are 81; guard Jerry Kramer is about to turn 81; safety Willie Wood is 80; flanker Boyd Dowler is 79 tight end Carroll Dale is 78; cornerback Herb Adderley is 77; safety Tom Brown is 76; tight end Marv Fleming and linebacker Dave Robinson are 75; and center Bill Curry is 74.

* Also still alive from the 1966-67 Packers are backup quarterback Zeke Bratkowski, 85; tight end Bill Anderson, 80; receiver William "Red" Mack, 79; cornerback Doug Hart, 77; center Ken Bowman, offensive tackle Steve Wright, receiver Bob Long, and defensive tackle Jim Weatherwax, all 74; running back and punter Donny Anderson, tight end Allen Brown, linebacker Phil Vandersea, and cornerback Dave Hathcock, all 73; and running back Jim Grabowski, 72. So that's 28 surviving members of the 1st team to win the Super Bowl.


* NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle and AFL Commissioner Milt Woodard both died in 1996.

* Paul Christman, quarterback of the 1947 NFL Champion Chicago Cardinals, and color commentator for NBC, died of a heart attack in 1970, before any of the other major participants. Ray Scott, the voice of the Packers, who provided the 1st half play-by-play for CBS, died in 1998. Curt Gowdy, who did play-by-play for NBC, died in 2006. CBS color commentator Frank Gifford, the Hall of Fame running back for the New York Giants, died in 2015. Jack Whitaker, who provided their 2nd half play-by-play, is still alive, age 92.
Jack Whitaker, the last surviving broadcaster from Super Bowl I

* Halftime entertainer Al Hirt died in 1999.

* Referee Norm Schachter, who joined the NFL's officiating corps in 1954, would survive the 1967 NFL Championship Game in Green Bay, a.k.a. the Ice Bowl, and would also work at Super Bowls V and 10, before retiring in 1975, died in 2004.
A referee with his own card?
Yes, Norm was that much of a legend.

* George Toma, groundskeeper for Kansas City's Athletics and Chiefs, whom Lamar Hunt lobbied Pete Rozelle to have run the groundskeeping for the game, continued to work for the Chiefs, and for MLB's Royals when they replaced the A's in 1969, until his retirement in 1999. The NFL has kept "The Sod God" on, and, barring a medical calamity, will, a few days after his 88th birthday, oversee the groundskeeping for Super Bowl LI.
Toma at Super Bowl 50

* Other people who have been to each of the 1st 50 Super Bowls: Norma Hunt, widow of Lamar and mother of current Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, and the only woman among the 16 who have seen all 50; sportswriters Dave Klein, Jerry Green and Jerry Izenberg; photographers John Biever, Walter Iooss Jr. and Mickey Palmer; and 8 fans: Don Crisman, Tom Henschel, Larry Jacobson, Larry McDonald, Lew Rapoport, Harvey Rothenberg, Alvin Schragis and Sylvan Schefler.
Crisman, of Maine, a New England Patriots fan;
Henschel, of Winfield, Pennsylvania, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan;
and Jacobson of San Francisco, a 49ers fan.

As far as I know, all 16 people who've been to the 1st 50 Super Bowls will be able to attend Super Bowl LI. I believe Iooss, 73, the great photographer for Sports Illustrated, is the youngest, making him the likeliest person to end up as the last survivor of the group.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

How to Be a Devils Fan In Philadelphia -- 2017 Edition

Next Saturday, the New Jersey Devils play away to the Philadelphia Flyers. It will be the 1st full day of the Trump Administration, and the Devils and their fans will be surrounded by thousands of Flyer fans wearing orange and black. I'm not sure which is status is the more nauseating.

There are a few teams that Devils fans don't like. The New York Islanders. The Boston Bruins. The Pittsburgh Penguins. The Washington Capitals. The Toronto Maple Leafs. The Ottawa Senators. The Los Angeles Kings.

But the only team, outside of the New York Rangers, a.k.a. The Scum, that we out-and-out hate is the Flyers, a.k.a. The Philth or Philthy.

This is due to factors that precede the Devils' very existence: In the 1970s, the Flyers were the Broad Street Bullies, their players taking cheap shots at their opponents, dropping the gloves to fight at the drop of a hat, and on occasion even going into the stands to fight opposing fans.

Their fans were no better, openly encouraging such behavior. All the time that the Flyers played at The Spectrum, from 1967 to 1996, they were among the nastiest creatures in the game. While things have been toned down a bit at the Wells Fargo Center, any visiting fan -- especially a Devils, Rangers, Islanders, Capitals, Bruins and above all a cross-Pennsylvania Penguins fan -- should be on his guard.

But that doesn't mean you can't go down and enjoy the experience. I have, a couple of times, and even came away with a win (once).

Before You Go. Philadelphia is just down the road, so it's in the Eastern Time Zone, and you don't have to worry about fiddling with various timepieces. And the weather will be almost identical to what you'd have on the same day in New Jersey or New York.

Still, check the combined website for the Philadelphia newspapers, the Inquirer and the Daily News, before you head out. For the moment, it looks like, for next Saturday, temperatures in Philly will be in the high 50s in daylight, and the high 40s at night. If you wear a Devils jersey to games, that should be enough. If you don't, a light jacket should suffice, and, of course, if it gets hot inside, you can remove it: Unlike at the Spectrum, you should have enough room for it under your seat. They're also predicting a 10 percent chance of rain, so you probably won't need an umbrella, which you couldn't bring into the arena anyway.

Tickets. The Flyers averaged 19,578 fans per home game last season -- a sellout. So, yes, order your tickets ahead of time.

Lower level sections, the 100 Level, run $165 to $175 between the goals, and $146 to $160 behind them. Upper level sections, the 200 Level, run $85 to $105 throughout between and $85 to $100 behind.

Getting There. It's 99 miles from Times Square in Manhattan to City Hall in Center City Philadelphia, and 90 miles from the Prudential Center in downtown Newark to the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia.

This is close enough that a typical Devils fan could leave his house, drive to the Prudential Center, pick up some friends, head down to the WFC, watch a game, head back, drop his friends off, and and drive home, all within 7 hours. But it's also close enough that you could spend an entire day in Philadelphia, and, hopefully, you've already done this. Having done so many times myself, I can tell you that it's well worth it.

If you are driving, you'll need to get on the New Jersey Turnpike. If you're not "doing the city," but just going to the game, take the Turnpike's Exit 3 to NJ Route 168, which forms part of the Black Horse Pike, to Interstate 295. (The Black Horse Pike later becomes NJ Route 42, US Route 322 and US Route 40, going into Atlantic City. Not to be confused with the White Horse Pike, US Route 30, which also terminates in A.C.)

Take I-295 to Exit 26, which will get you onto Interstate 76 and the Walt Whitman Bridge into Philly. Signs for the ballpark will soon follow, and the park is at 11th Street and Pattison Avenue (though the mailing address is "1 Citizens Bank Way").

From anywhere in New York City, allow 2½ hours for the actual drive, though from North Jersey you might need only 2, and from Central Jersey an hour and a half might suffice. But you'll need at least another half-hour to negotiate the last mile or so, including the parking lot itself.

If you don't want to drive, there are other options, but the best one is the train. Philadelphia is too close to fly, just as flying from New York (from JFK, LaGuardia or Newark) to Boston, Baltimore and Washington, once you factor in fooling around with everything you gotta do at each airport, doesn't really save you much time compared to driving, the bus or the train.

And I strongly recommend not taking the bus. If you do, once you see Philadelphia's Greyhound terminal, at 10th & Filbert Streets in Center City, the nation's 2nd-busiest behind New York's Port Authority Bus Terminal, you'll say to yourself, "I never thought I'd say this to myself, but thank God for Port Authority!"
The Philly terminal is a disgrace. I don't know how many people are in Atlantic City on an average summer day, when both the beaches and the casinos are full (I'm guessing about half a million, or one-third the size of Philly), but it has a permanent population of 40,000 people, compared to the 1.6 million of Philadelphia, and it has a bus station of roughly equal size and far greater cleanliness than Philly's. Besides, Greyhound service out of Newark's Penn Station is very limited, and do you really want to go out of New Jersey into Manhattan just to get across New Jersey into Philadelphia?

If you can afford Amtrak, and that will be $110 round-trip between Newark and Philly, it takes about an hour and a half to get from Penn Station in downtown Newark to the 30th Street Station at 30th & Market Streets, just across the Schuylkill River from Center City. Unlike the dull post-1963 Penn Station, this building is an Art Deco masterpiece from 1933, and is the former corporate headquarters of the Pennsylvania Railroad. (Ironically, it never had the official name "Pennsylvania Station" or "Penn Station.") You might recognize its interior from the Eddie Murphy film Trading Places. (If you can't afford Amtrak, or if you can but you'd rather save money, I'll get to what to do in a minute.)
West front of 30th Street Station, with Center City in background

This is a 7:00 PM puck-drop, which should give you enough time to get from the sports complex back to 30th Street in time to catch the 10:28 PM Palmetto back to Metropark or Newark. If not, the last train of the night from 30th Street to Newark Penn is a Northeast Regional at 11:04 PM, and gets back at 12:10 AM.
Interior of 30th Street Station

From 30th Street Station, you can take a cab that will go down I-76, the Schuylkill Expressway, to I-95, the Delaware Expressway, to South Broad Street to the Sports Complex. I would advise against this, though: When I did this for a Yankees-Phillies Interleague game at the Vet in 1999, it was $15. It's probably $25 now.

Philadelphia and Toronto are the only 2 cities left on the North American continent, as far as I know, that still use tokens rather than farecards (or "MetroCards" as New York's MTA calls them) or tickets for their subways. One ride on a SEPTA subway train is $2.25, cheaper than New York's, but they don’t sell single tokens at booths. They come in packs of 2, 5 and 10, and these packs are damn hard to open. Two cost $3.60; five are $9.00, and a ten-pack costs $18.00. They are also available for bulk purchase.

From 30th Street, take the Market-Frankford Line to 15th Street (that's just one stop), where you'll transfer to the Broad Street Line at City Hall Station. Being a Met fan, you'll notice that the MFL's standard color is blue, while the BSL's is orange. Blue and orange. Don't think that means they want to make Met, Knick or Islander fans feel at home, though.

From City Hall, if you're lucky, you'll get an express train that will make just 2 stops, Walnut-Locust and AT&T (formerly "Pattison" -- yes, they sold naming rights to one of their most important subway stations). But you'll want to save your luck for the game itself, so don't be too disappointed if you get a local, which will make 7 stops: Walnut-Locust, Lombard-South, Ellsworth-Federal, Tasker-Morris, Oregon, Snyder and AT&T. The local should take about 10 minutes, the express perhaps 7 minutes.

If you don't want to take Amtrak, your other rail option is local. At Newark Penn, you can buy a combined New Jersey Transit/SEPTA ticket to get to Center City Philadelphia. Take NJT's Northeast Corridor Line out of Penn Station to the Trenton Transit Center. This station recently completed a renovation that has already turned it from an absolute hole (it was so bad, it made Philly's bus station look like Grand Central) into a modern multimodal transport facility. At Trenton, transfer to the SEPTA commuter rail train that will terminate at Chestnut Hill East, and get off at Suburban Station, at 17th Street & John F. Kennedy Blvd. (which is what Filbert Street is called west of Broad Street). Getting off there, a pedestrian concourse will lead you to the City Hall station on the Broad Street Line, and then just take that to Pattison.
Because there will be a lot more stops than there are on Amtrak (especially the SEPTA part), it will take 2 hours and 10 minutes, but you'll spend $43 round-trip, about what you'd spend on a same-day purchase on Greyhound, and less than half of what you'd be likely to spend on Amtrak. However, again, time will be an issue: The last SEPTA Trenton Line train of the night that will connect to an NJT train leaves Suburban Station at 11:57 PM (and the NJT train it will connect to won't get to Penn Station until 2:46 AM), so this might not be an option for you this time, either.

The subway's cars are fairly recent, and don't rattle much, although they can be unpleasant on the way back from the game, especially if it's a football game and they're rammed with about 100 Eagles fans who've spent the game sweating and boozing and are still loaded for bear for anyone from outside the Delaware Valley. It's highly unlikely anyone will give you anything more than a little bit of verbal on the subway ride into the Sports Complex, while they might give a little more gusto to the verbal on the ride back. But despite Philly sports fans' reputation, this will not be the equivalent of the London Underground on a Saturday afternoon in the 1980s: They might tell you that your team sucks (even if your team is ahead of theirs in the standings), but that's about the worst you'll get.
Once In the City. Philadelphia is a Greek word meaning "brotherly love," a name given to it by its founder, William Penn, in 1683. So the city is nicknamed "The City of Brotherly Love." The actions and words of its sports fans suggest that this is ridiculous. Giants coach Bill Parcells was once caught on an NFL Films production, during a game with the Eagles at the Vet, saying to Lawrence Taylor, "You know, Lawrence, they call this 'the City of Brotherly Love,' but it's really a banana republic." And Emmitt Smith, who played for that other team Eagles fans love to hate, the Dallas Cowboys, also questioned the name: "They don't got no love for no brothers."
Center City, with the Ben Franklin Bridge in the foreground

On a map, it might look like Penn Square, surrounding City Hall, is the centerpoint, but this is just geographic, and only half-refers to addresses. Market Street is the difference between the north-south numbering on the numbered Streets. But the Delaware River is the start for the east-west streets, with Front Street taking the place of 1st Street. Broad Street, which intersects with Market at City Hall/Penn Square, takes the place of 14th Street.

In the Colonial and Revolutionary periods, Philadelphia was the largest city in America, before being overtaken by New York. As recently as 1970, it had about 2 million people. But "white flight" after the 1964 North Philadelphia riot led to the population dropping to just over 1.5 million in 2000. It has inched back upward since then. The metro area as a whole -- southeastern Pennsylvania, South Jersey and most of Delaware -- is about 7 million, making it the 6th-largest in the country, behind New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston.

The sales tax is 6 percent in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania (Massachusetts, Virginia and Kentucky are also "commonwealths" in their official State names), 8 percent within the City of Philadelphia.

Going In. The Philadelphia sports complex is at Broad Street and Pattison Avenue, about 3 1/2 miles south of Center City. It once included Sesquicentennial/Municipal/John F. Kennedy Stadium (1926-1992), The Spectrum (1967-2009), and Veterans Stadium (1971-2004). The arena now known as the Wells Fargo Center was built on the site of JFK Stadium. Citizens Bank Park, the new home of the Phillies, was built to the east of The Vet. And Lincoln Financial Field was built south of the new ballpark, and east of the Spectrum.
The Sports Complex, sometime between 1971 and 1992.
Top to bottom: The Vet, The Spectrum and JFK Stadium.

There is plenty of parking in the complex, including a lot on the site of  The Vet. But you'll be a lot better off if you take the subway. Not really because of the price of parking: At $16, it's one of the cheaper fares in baseball. But traffic is going to be awful. The first time I went to a sporting event in Philadelphia, it was a 4th of July celebration at the Vet, and 58,000 people showed up to see the Phils face the Houston Astros, with Nolan Ryan pitching. The game and the fireworks combined did not last as long as it took to get out of the parking lot and onto the Walt Whitman Bridge: 2 hours and 40 minutes. Trust me: Take the freakin' subway.

Coming out of the AT&T subway station, you'll walk down Pattison Avenue, with a parking lot on the former site of Veterans Stadium to your left, and the site of the Spectrum to your right.

Further to your right is the successor to the Spectrum, the Wells Fargo Center, named for the banking and insurance company. This building is 19 years old and is now under its 5th name. The official address is 3601 S. Broad Street.

It was built on the site of John F. Kennedy Stadium, formerly Municipal Stadium, a 105,000-seat structure that hosted all kinds of events, from the Army-Navy Game to heavyweight title fights (Gene Tunney taking the title away from Jack Dempsey in 1926 and Rocky Marciano doing the same to Jersey Joe Walcott in 1952), from the occasional Eagles game that was too big for Shibe Park in the 1940s and '50s to the U.S. half of Live Aid in 1985. And it hosted the Phils' victory celebration in 1980, with its huge capacity coming in handy. By that point, it was crumbling, and it surprised no one when it was demolished to make way for the new arena.
The new arena began as Spectrum II, then, as naming rights were sold and banks bought out other banks, it became the CoreStates Center, the First Union Center (Flyer fans liked calling it "The F.U. Center"), the Wachovia Center, and now the Wells Fargo Center. It is 1 of 10 arenas currently housing both an NBA team and an NHL team.

It was as the First Union Center that it hosted the 2000 Republican Convention, nominating George W. Bush for President; next July, presumably under the name Wells Fargo Center, it will host the 2016 Democratic Convention. (The Democrats met at Convention Hall, now Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City in 1964. 2301 Boardwalk at Mississippi Avenue. Atlantic City Rail Line from 30th Street Station.)

Villanova University also uses the arena for basketball games that have a ticket demand greater than their on-campus Pavilion can satisfy. And, like The Spectrum before it, it's hosted NCAA Tournament games, although it's now considered too small to host the Final Four, as The Spectrum did in 1976 and 1981 (with Indiana University winning both times).

The arena has also been home to Arena Football's Philadelphia Soul since 2004. They've been in 3 ArenaBowls, winning in 2008. The arena has not, however, hosted an ArenaBowl.

Inside the arena, concourses are wide and well-lit, a big departure from the Spectrum. Escalators are safe and nearly always work, as opposed to the Vet, which did not have escalators, only seemingly-endless ramps. Getting to your seat should be easy.
Yes, that's a lot of orange.
No, the Dutch soccer team doesn't play there.

The Flyers attack twice toward the south end of the arena.

Food. From the famed Old Original Bookbinder's (125 Walnut Street at 2nd, now closed) and Le Bec Fin (1523 Walnut at 16th) to the Reading Terminal Market (Philly's "South Street Seaport" at 51 N. 12th St at Filbert) to the South Philly cheesesteak giants Pat's, Geno's and Tony Luke's, Philly is a great food city and don't you ever forget it. The variety of food available at the Wells Fargo Center is unbelievable. Little of it is healthy (no surprise there), but all of it is good.

On the lower Main Concourse Level, the South Jersey restaurant chain P.J. Whelihan's has stands behind both goals. Tim Hortons, the Canadian doughnut chain founded by the Toronto Maple Leafs legend, has stands at all 4 corners. Chickie's & Pete's, whose main outlet is nearby at 1526 Packer Avenue (near the also-famed Celebre's Pizza), has stands on the west side and in the northeast corner, to sell their fish and their "crab fries" -- French fries with Old Bay seasoning mix, not fries with crabmeat. The northeast corner also has that wonderful junk food staple of Pennsylvania Dutch country (and the Jersey Shore), funnel cake. The legendary South Street pizzeria Lorenzo & Sons has stands on both the east and west sides. Each of these brands can also be found on the upper, Mezzanine Concourse Level.

Team History Displays. The banners honoring Flyer achievements are at the arena's north end; those for the 76ers, at the south end.

The Flyers hang banners for their 1973-74 and 1974-75 Stanley Cup wins (both banners displaying the seasons that way -- for the sub-Cup banners, I'll keep it simple); their 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1985 and 1987 Prince of Wales Conference titles; their 1997 and 2010 Eastern Conference titles; and for their regular-season Division titles of 1968, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2011.

(You're reading that right: In both 1995 and 2000, when the Devils won the Cup, and beat the Flyers in the Conference Finals both times, the Flyers won the Atlantic Division in the regular season.)

The Flyers have 5 numbers officially retired. In 2012, they retired the Number 2 of 1982-92 defenseman Mark Howe (Gordie's son, and a Hockey Hall-of-Famer in his own right). So far, he's the only Flyer retired number honoree who was not a member of their back-to-back 1970s Cups.

The 1st Flyer player to get his number retired was 1970-74 defenseman Barry Ashbee, Number 4. The 2nd, and the 1st Flyer player to get into the Hall of Fame, was Bernie Parent, goaltender 1967-79 (missing 1971-73 in the World Hockey Association). Unfortunately, both had their careers prematurely ended by eye injuries, in Ashbee's case against the Rangers during the 1974 Playoffs. He stayed on as an assistant coach, but died of leukemia in 1977. The other 2 are Captain Bobby Clarke, center, 1969-84 and their first genuine superstar; and Bill Barber, left wing, 1972-84.
Howe's 2 had yet to be retired when this photo was taken.

Two others should be mentioned. Pelle Lindbergh, goaltending hero of the 1985 Playoffs, was killed early the next season when he drove drunk coming home from a party in South Jersey and crashed into a school. His Number 31 has not been retired, but neither has it been given out since.

And Eric Lindros, controversially stripped of the Captaincy by then-GM Clarke and then had his Flyer career ended by Scott Stevens' shoulder in Game 7 of the 2000 Conference Finals, wore Number 88, and no Flyer has since. Since he represented the Flyers, not his next team the Rangers, in the Winter Classic Alumni Game at Citizens Bank Park on New Year's Eve 2011, before the Flyers-Rangers game the next day, it can be presumed that he and the Flyers have buried the hatchet.

It should be noted that Clarke is usually called "Bobby" when you refer to him as a player, and "Bob" when you refer to him as a coach and an executive. Flyer fans still adore Bobby Clarke, but they didn't much like Bob Clarke, seeing him no longer as their guy, but as a stooge for ownership.

Alongside the 5 retired number banners in the rafters, the Flyers have 3 banners honoring 23 figures from team history in the Flyers Hall of Fame: Ed Snider, the only owner the team has ever had in its 48 years of existence; Cup-winning head coach Fred Shero and GM Keith Allen; longtime broadcaster Gene Hart; 1974 and '75 Cup-winning players Clarke, Parent, Barber, Ashbee, Rick MacLeish, Gary Dornhoefer, Reggie Leach, Joe Scott, Ed Van Impe, Joe Watson, Dave Poulin and Dave "the Hammer" Schultz; 1980s players Howe, Tim Kerr, Brian Propp and Ron Hextall; and 1990s players Lindros, John LeClair and Eric Desjardins.

Lindbergh has not yet been inducted, probably because they would have to explain to kids and victims of drunk driving why a drunk driver is in there. Which is probably also, along with his fraud conviction and imprisonment, why the Phillies haven't elected Lenny Dykstra -- who included Devils legend Ken Daneyko among those he defrauded -- to the Philadelphia Baseball Wall of Fame.

Parent, Clarke, Barber, Howe, Lindros, Snider, Allen, Shero, original GM Bud Poile, former coach Poile, and broadcaster Gene Hart were elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Clarke, Parent and Lindros were named to The Hockey News' 100 Greatest Players in 1998. Snider, Allen, Shero, Clarke, Howe, Poile, and former right wing and head coach Paul Holmgren have received the Lester Patrick Trophy for contributions to hockey in America.

There are also banners honoring music legends Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Each has their number of sellout concerts in the city on his banner (all venues combined): Bruce, 53; Billy, 48. Although Bruce has a higher total, Billy holds the sellout record at the WFC: 18. (The Grateful Dead had the most sellouts at the Spectrum, but there is nothing reflecting this at the WFC.)

On the lower concourse, the Flyers also have displays honoring the history of the team, including a tribute to the 1974 and 1975 Cup winners. I have never been to a 76ers game there, so I don't know if they have a similar display when they play, but if they do, it wasn't shown during my Devils-Flyers visits.

There were 4 statues outside The Spectrum. One was of Sylvester Stallone in character as Rocky Balboa. That one has been moved, appropriately enough, to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, not far from the steps he ran up in every movie. One was for Julius "Dr. J" Erving of the 76ers. The other 2 were for the Flyers. One was titled "Score!" depicting Gary Dornhoefer's overtime goal against the Minnesota North Stars in the 1973 Playoffs. It bears a striking resemblance to Bobby Orr's "Flying Goal" that wont the 1970 Stanley Cup for the Boston Bruins.
"Score!" This was taken outside The Spectrum.

Another was for Kate Smith, whose recording of "God Bless America," played in place of "The Star-Spangled Banner," was a good luck charm for the Flyers, to the point where she was invited to sing it live before Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals, which they won for their 1st title.

The Dr. J, Score! and Kate Smith statues have been moved to Xfinity Live! on the site of The Spectrum. A statue of Fred Shero has since been added. Outside the Wells Fargo Center, a statue has been added for Wilt Chamberlain, who played for the Warriors and the 76ers.

Clarke played on the Team Canada that beat the Soviet Union in the 1972 "Summit Series." He and all the other players from that team were named to Canada's Walk of Fame. But no member of the Gold Medal-winning 1980 U.S. Olympic team ever played for the Flyers. Pat Quinn, who coached the Flyers into the 1980 Stanley Cup Finals, is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame, although mainly for things he did elsewhere.

Stuff. The Flyers have a team store, run by Forty Seven Brand ('47), in the northwest corner of the lower concourse, which is also open on non-game days.

You might expect to see DVDs in the store, including NHL History of the Philadelphia Flyers, taking the team from its 1967 beginning to its 40th Anniversary in 2007; and the Philadelphia Flyers 10 Greatest Games set. Based on a fans' vote, they are shown from 10th through 1st.

I'll list them chronologically: Clarke's overtime winner taking Game 2 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Finals, The Cup clinchers of 1974 and 1975, the 1976 win over the Soviet Red Army, the 1979 win in Boston that gave them an NHL record of 29 straight games unbeaten (they extended it to 35), Kerr scoring 4 goals in 1 period against the Rangers at the Garden in the 1985 Playoffs, J.J. Daigneault winning Game 6 of the 1987 Finals in overtime against the Edmonton Oilers, Keith Primeau scoring to win the 5-overtime epic with Pittsburgh in the 2000 Playoffs, Jeremy Roenick scoring in overtime to win a 2004 Playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Game 6 of that year's Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning (though the Bolts won Game 7).

What you might not expect to find in a Flyers team store is books. I'm not suggesting that Flyer fans are illiterate...

In 2000, Philly-based sportswriter Jay Greenberg published Full Spectrum: The Complete History of the Philadelphia Flyers Hockey Club. But if you really want to get a feel for Philly sports, get these 3, all co-written by WIP host Glen Macnow with one of his colleagues: The Great Philadelphia Fan Book with Anthony Gargano, The Great Philadelphia Sports Debate with Angelo Cataldi (who is Philly's answer to Mike & the Mad Dog, all in one guy), and The Great Book of Philadelphia Sports Lists, with Ed Gudonis, a.k.a. Big Daddy Graham, also a Philly and Jersey Shore-based standup comic and a great guy who writes a regular column for Philadelphia magazine.

During the Game. A November 19, 2014 article on The Hockey News' website ranked the NHL teams' fan bases, and listed the Flyers' fans 6th, 2nd among U.S.-based teams behind Chicago: "Attendance holds steady even when Flyers have the odd down season."

Unlike most venues in North American sports, a Flyers home game -- and an Eagles home game, but not so much the Phillies and 76ers -- carries with it the specter of fan violence. For the most part, Flyer fans might give you some verbal abuse, but very few with take to the level of violence, even when drunk.
Besides, in spite of 1995 and 2000,
they hate the Penguins more than the Devils.

The best thing to keep in mind if you're a visiting fan, especially if you're wearing team gear, is to not instigate anything. And definitely don't chant, "Rangers suck! Flyers swallow!"

The Flyers are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this season. And this Saturday night's game will be Season Ticket Member Appreciation Night. So it won't be nearly as many yahoos who show up just to make or enjoy trouble, it'll be more people who know the game. Which is a big difference between Flyer fans and Ranger fans.

The Flyers have a choice of pregame patriotic songs: Either they'll go with Kate Smith's recording of "God Bless America," or the National Anthem will be sung by Lauren Hart, recording artist and daughter of the late Hall of Fame broadcaster Gene Hart. Their goal song is "Booyah" by Showtek, replacing "My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark" by Fall Out Boy, which was not popular among Flyer fans.

The Flyers do not have a mascot. They briefly had a creature named Slapshot in 1976, but the fans did not take to it, and he was withdrawn before the next season began.

The "Let's go" chant is different from those used by all 3 New York Tri-State Area teams: Instead of hitting the 1st and 3rd syllables, as in, "LET'S go, DEV-ils!" they hit the1st and 4th: "LET'S go, Fly-ERS!" It's a little weird the first time you hear it. It's also a little weird every time you hear it thereafter.

This game will be a Dollar Dog Night, sponsored by the Flyers' hot dog maker, Dietz & Watson.

After the Game. Philadelphia is a big city, with all the difficulties of big cities as well as many of the perks of them. Especially at night, the risk of Flyer fans getting rough increases, as they've had time to drink, but not by much. Again, don't antagonize them, especially if the Devils win, and you'll probably be okay.

What you should do at the end of the game depends on what time it is and how you got there. If you took the train(s) down, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting back onto the subway, and to Suburban Station, in time to catch the 10:45 PM SEPTA train back to Trenton, which will allow you to get the 12:10 AM NJ Transit train back to New York, arriving at Penn Station at 1:35 AM. If, for whatever reason (extra innings, you stopped somewhere along the way, something else), you end up missing this train, there will be another an hour later, but the NJT train it connects to at Trenton at will be the last train of the night.

If you drove down, and you want to stop off for a late dinner and/or drinks (except, of course, for the designated driver), the nearby Holiday Inn at 9th Street & Packer Avenue has a bar that is co-owned by former Eagles quarterback, now ESPN pundit, Ron Jaworski. As I mentioned earlier, the original outlet of Chickie's & Pete's is at 15th & Packer. Right next to it is a celebrated joint, named, appropriately enough, Celebre Pizzeria.

(The legend is true: Richie Ashburn and his broadcast partners, Harry Kalas, Chris Wheeler and Andy Musser mentioned their great-tasting pizzas on the air so often that, since Phils broadcasts were then sponsored by a pizzeria chain, they couldn't mention Celebre's anymore. So, just as Ashburn's New York counterpart, Phil Rizzuto, liked to mention birthdays and food, especially Italian food, on the air, "Whitey" rattled off a few birthday wishes, and said, "And I'd like to wish a Happy Birthday to the Celebre's twins, Plain and Pepperoni! Say, Wheels, how old are Plain and Pepperoni?" And Wheeler said, "Oh, about 20 minutes, I hope!" Sure enough, 20 minutes later, the delivery of the 2 pizzas was made. And nobody fired Richie Ashburn -- although he died from a diabetes-induced heart attack in 1997, and his eyesight was already getting bad enough that he was getting pressured to retire, and was considering it. He died at the Grand Hyatt adjacent to Grand Central, during a Phils roadtrip to play the Mets -- and he wasn't alone as initially reported: He had his mistress with him.)

The legendary Pat's and Geno's Steaks, arch-rivals as intense as any local sports opponents, are across 9th Street from each other at Passyunk Avenue in the Italian Market area. My preference is Pat's, but Geno's is also very good. Be advised, though, that the lines at both are of Shake Shack length, because people know they're that good. Also, Pat's was "the original Soup Nazi": You have to have your cash ready, and you have to quickly order your topping, your style of cheese, and either "wit" or "widdout" -- with or without onions. I haven't been there in a while, but I've been there often enough that I have a "usual": "Mushroom, whiz, wit." Both Pat's and Geno's are open 24 hours, but, because of the length of the line, unless you drove down to the game, I would recommend not going there after the game, only before (if you can make time for it). Broad Street Line to Ellsworth-Federal, then 5 blocks east on Federal, and 1 block south on 9th.

There is one place I know of in Philadelphia that caters to New York fans: The Tavern on Broad, at 200 S. Broad Street at Walnut, seems to be the headquarters of the local Giants fan club. The Fox & Hound, at 1501 Spruce Street in Center City, is also said to be accommodating to Giants fans. Jet fans are said to be welcome at Revolution House, at 200 Market Stret in Old City.

A particular favorite restaurant of mine is the New Deck Tavern, at 3408 Sansom Street in University City, on the Penn campus. You can also pick up a sandwich, a snack or a drink at any of several Wawa stores in and around the city. If you came in via Suburban Station, there's one at 1707 Arch, a 5-minute walk away; if the game lasts 3 hours or less, you have a shot at getting in, getting your order, getting out, and getting back to the station in time to catch your train.

If your visit to Philly is during the European soccer season (which is in progress), you can probably watch your favorite club at Fadó Irish Pub, at 1500 Locust Street in Center City. Be advised that this is home to supporters' groups for Manchester United, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Celtic FC; so if you're not particularly fond of any of those teams, you might want to stay away.

Sidelights. The Philadelphia sports complex once included 3 buildings that have all been replaced and demolished: From north to south, the Vet, the Spectrum and JFK Stadium. The arena now known as the Wells Fargo Center was built on the site of JFK Stadium. Citizens Bank Park, the new home of the Phillies, was built to the east of The Vet. And Lincoln Financial Field was built south of the new ballpark, and east of the Spectrum.

* Sesquicentennial/Municipal/JFK Stadium. Built in 1926 for a 150th Anniversary (Sesquicentennial of American independence) world's fair in Philadelphia, this 105,000-seat horseshoe (open at the north end) was designed for football, but one of its earliest events was a fight for the Heavyweight Championship of the World. For the 1st time, that title changed hands on a decision, rather than on a knockout. But Gene Tunney so decisively outfought champion Jack Dempsey that no one disputed it. (When they had their rematch a year later, at Soldier Field in Chicago, that was another story.)

The stadium was renamed Municipal Stadium in 1931 (sometimes it was called simply Philadelphia Stadium), and, due to being (roughly) halfway between the service academies, became the site of the Army-Navy Game from 1936 to 1941, and again from 1945 to 1979, before it was moved to The Vet.

The Eagles played home games there from 1936 to 1939, and select games thereafter, including the 1950 season opener that was, as soccer fans would call it, a "Charity Shield" game: The 2-time defending NFL Champion Eagles vs. the Cleveland Browns, 4-time titlists in the All-America Football Conference. The Browns were 47-4-3 over the AAFC's 4-season history; the Eagles, 22-3-1 over the last 2 years, thanks to a 5-2 alignment that was the 1st defensive unit to have a memorable nickname: Before San Diego and Los Angeles had a Fearsome Foursome, Philly had a Suicide Seven.

Some people then called it "The Game of the Century," and some now think of as an unofficial "first Super Bowl" -- ironic, since neither team has won an NFL Championship in the Super Bowl era, and the Browns haven't even been to a Super Bowl yet. Playing on a Saturday night -- making it, sort of, not just "the 1st Super Bowl" but "the 1st Monday Night Football game" -- in front of 71,237 fans, still the largest crowd ever to watch a football game in Philadelphia (and nearly double the capacity of Shibe Park, which really limited the Eagles' attendance), the Browns beat the Eagles 35-10, stunning football fans all over the nation. The Eagles never recovered, while the Browns won the NFL title that year, and appeared in 7 title games in 8 years, winning 3.

In 1964, Municipal Stadium was renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium. On August 16, 1966, the Beatles played there. On July 13, 1985, it hosted the American end of Live Aid. But that show exposed to the world that it already falling apart. The Rolling Stones, who had packed the place on their 1981 Tattoo You tour, chose the considerably smaller Vet for Steel Wheels in 1989. It was demolished in 1992, and the new arena opened on the site in 1996.

* The Spectrum. This modern (for its time) arena opened in 1967, and 2 teams at the opposite ends of the competitive, uh, spectrum moved in: The 76ers, the NBA's defending Champions; and the Flyers, an NHL expansion team. Although the Flyers won inspirational (and confrontational) Stanley Cups in 1974 and '75, they also lost in the Finals in 1976, '80, '85 and '87. And while the Sixers won the 1983 NBA title in a dominating season-long performance, they also lost in the Finals in 1977, '80 and '82, and were lost after a couple of puzzling Draft Day trades in 1986.
The Spectrum hosted the NCAA Final Four in 1976 and 1981, both times won by Bobby Knight's Indiana. Since 1976 was the Bicentennial year, it also hosted the NBA and NHL All-Star Games. The Vet also hosted baseball's All-Star Game that year. And the Spectrum was the site of both fights between Philly native Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed, the former in the first Rocky, on New Year's Day 1976, and the latter in Rocky II, on Thanksgiving of that year. (All the movies' fights were actually filmed at the Los Angeles Sports Arena, due to its proximity to Hollywood.)

The Spectrum was also a big arena for college basketball: Villanova used it for home games that were too big for its on-campus Pavilion, the Atlantic 10 Conference used it for its tournament, and it hosted NCAA Tournament games at the sub-Final Four level, including the 1992 thriller that put Duke into the Final Four at Kentucky's expense, thanks to the last-second shot of Christian Laettner. The first rock concert there was by Cream, on their 1968 farewell tour. The last, and the last public event there, was by Pearl Jam in 2009.

Elvis Presley sang at The Spectrum on November 8, 1971; June 23, 1974 (2 shows), June 28, 1976; and May 28 1977.

The Spectrum became, in the words of its promoters, "America's Showplace" and the most-used sports arena in the world. This was a blessing and a curse: They could make a lot of money off of it, but it was limited. So Spectacor, the company that owned the Spectrum and the Sixers, built Spectrum II, now the Wells Fargo Center.
From 1996 to 2009, the arenas stood side-by-side. The main Spectrum tenants said goodbye as follows: The Flyers with an exhibition game on September 27, 2008, with all their former Captains on hand, as the Fly Guys beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2; Villanova with the building's last college basketball game on January 28, 2009, a win over the University of Pittsburgh; and on March 13, 2009, the Sixers beat the Chicago Bulls 104-101 in a special regular-season game.

The Spectrum was demolished the next year, and replaced in part with a live concert venue called "Xfinity Live!" (Yes, the exclamation point is included in the official name.) This structure now hosts the statues that were outside the Spectrum. A hotel is planned for the rest of the Spectrum site.

* Veterans Stadium. When it opened on April 10, 1971, it was considered state of the art and wonderful. And, as the Phillies had a great team from 1976 to 1983, reaching 6 postseasons in 8 years, winning 2 Pennants and the 1980 World Series, it became beloved by Phils fans. The Eagles, too, had a resurgence in the late 1970s, and hosted and won the 1980 NFC Championship Game. The Vet was seen as everything that Connie Mack Stadium was not: New instead of old, in good shape instead of falling apart, in a safe place instead of a ghetto (unless you were a New York Giants or Dallas Cowboys fan), and representative of victory instead of defeat.

The Eagles had a down period in the mid-1980s, but rebounded toward the end of the decade. But the Phils had collapsed, and the Vet's faults began to be seen: It was ugly, the sight lines were bad for baseball, and the turf was bad for everything, from eyes to knees. By the time the Phils won the Pennant in 1993, Camden Yards had opened just down the road in Baltimore, and suddenly everyone wanted a "retro park," and no one wanted a "cookie-cutter stadium."

It took a few more years, and a lot of complaints from opposing NFL players that the stadium was deteriorating and the turf was dangerous, for a new stadium to be approved. The Eagles closed the Vet out with a shocking and devastating loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2002 NFC Championship Game, and the Phils did so with a loss to the Atlanta Braves on September 28, 2003. The Eagles had already moved into their new stadium by that point, and the Phils moved into theirs the next April, a few days after the Vet's demolition. The baseball and football sculptures that were outside have been placed on Pattison Avenue, in front of the parking lot where the Vet once stood.

The Vet hosted the Army-Navy Game every year from 1980 to 2001, except for 1983, 1989, 1993, 1997 and 2000. (The 1983 game was played at the Rose Bowl, the 2000 game at the new Ravens' stadium in Baltimore, and the rest, as well as the 2002 game, at the Meadowlands.) Various pro soccer teams, including the North American Soccer League's Philadelphia Atoms, also played there.

* Citizens Bank Park. It opened in 2004, and the Phils were in the Playoff race until September that year. In 2005 and '06, they were in it until the last weekend. In 2007, they won the Division. In 2008, they won the World Series. In 2009, they won another Pennant. In 2010 and '11, they won the Division -- 5 straight Playoff berths, and 8 seasons in the ballpark with all good-to-great seasons. Only in 2012, when injuries flurried in and the team suddenly seemed to get old all at once, did the bad times return.

Baker Bowl was a dump. Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium was already neglected due to Mack's strapped finances by the time the Phils arrived, and by the time they left the neighborhood was a ghastly ghetto. The Vet was a football stadium. CBP is a ballpark, and a great one. (Okay, on January 2, 2012, it was a hockey rink. To make matters worse, the Flyers lost to the one team I would want them to beat, the Rangers.)

"The Bank" has statues of Phils greats like Richie Ashburn and Mike Schmidt, great food like Greg Luzinski's Bull's Barbecue, and lots and lots of souvenirs, some of which don't involve the Phillie Phanatic. And, with the Phils now being terrible, tickets are easier to get.

* Lincoln Financial Field. The new home of the Eagles has seen them make the Playoffs more often than not, and reach the Super Bowl in the 2004 season. And fan behavior, while still rowdy, is not as criminal as it was at The Vet: No more municipal court under the stands is necessary.

"The Linc" has hosted the Army-Navy Game every year since it opened, except for 2007 and 2011. It will also not host it this year or in 2016, as Baltimore will on those occasions. It's hosted 3 games of the U.S. National Soccer Team, games of the 2003 Women's World Cup, an MLS All-Star Game, and several games by touring European teams such as Manchester United, Glasgow Celtic and A.C. Milan.

If you drove down, or you came by train early on Saturday and have the whole day to yourself before a 7:05 gametime, in addition to the other stadiums and arenas at the Sports Complex, there are lots of interesting locations for you to check out. Remember that, although the city's centerpoint is technically Broad & Market Streets, where City Hall is, the numbering of north-south streets starts at the Delaware River, so that Broad takes the place of 14th Street.

* Deliverance Evangelistic Church. This was the site of Shibe Park, renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1952. This is where the A's played from 1909 to 1954, the Phils from 1938 to 1970, and the Eagles in 1940, and from 1942 to 1957. The A's played World Series there in 1910, '11, '12, '13, '14, '29, '30 and '31, and the Phils (against the Yanks) in '50.

The Eagles played and won the 1948 NFL Championship Game there, beating the Chicago Cardinals 7-0 in a snowstorm, and also won the NFL title in '49 (though the title game was played in Los Angeles against the Rams). The Frankford Yellow Jackets sometimes used it in the 1920s, winning the 1926 NFL Championship. On October 14, 1948, shortly after Israel declared its independence, its national soccer team faced the U.S. at Shibe Park, shortly after doing so at Yankee Stadium. These were Israel's 1st 2 matches, and the U.S. won them both.

Be advised, though, that this is North Philly, and the church is easily the nicest building for several blocks around. Across the street is Dobbins Tech, a high school known for its great basketball program. (Remember the story of Hank Gathers and Bo Kimble? They went to Dobbins. So did Dawn Staley.) 21st Street & Lehigh Avenue. By subway, use the North Philadelphia station on the Broad Street Line, and walk 7 blocks west on Lehigh.

* Site of Baker Bowl. This was where the Phils played from 1887 to 1938, and the Eagles from 1933 to 1943 (though sometimes moving to Municipal Stadium, the one renamed for JFK). The Phils won one Pennant there, in 1915. It was also the Eagles' 1st home, in the 1933, '34 and '35 seasons.

Southwest corner of Broad Street and Lehigh Avenue, 8 blocks east of the Connie Mack Stadium site. Same subway stop as Shibe/Connie Mack. The A's original home, Columbia Park, is at 29th Street & Columbia Avenue, but I wouldn't recommend going there. If you're going to any of these, do it in daylight.

* The Palestra. Built in 1927, this is the arena aptly nicknamed the Cathedral of Basketball. It even has stained-glass windows. (I swear, I am not making that up.) The home gymnasium of the University of Pennsylvania (or just "Penn"), it also hosts some games of Philly's informal "Big 5" basketball programs when they play each other: Penn, Temple, La Salle, St. Joseph's and Villanova.

Penn, a member of the Ivy League, has one of the nicest college campuses anywhere, but do not be fooled by its Ivyness: In Philadelphia, even the Ivy Leaguers are tough. 235 South 33rd Street. Take the "Subway-Surface Line" trolley, either the Number 11, 13, 34 or 36, to the 33rd Street stop.

As I said, Philadelphia has hosted 2 NCAA Final Fours, both at the Spectrum. 'Nova has made it 4 times: 1939, 1971, 1985 and 2009. La Salle made it in back-to-back years, 1954 and 1955. Temple made it in 1956 and 1958, although never under legendary coach John Chaney. St. Joe's made it in 1961, and just missed in 2004. Penn made it in 1979, under future Detroit Pistons coach Chuck Daly. Temple won the NIT in 1938, but the only Philly-based National Champions under the NCAA banner (which began in 1939) are La Salle in 1954 and 'Nova in 1985.

* Franklin Field, right next to the Palestra. The oldest continuously-used college football site, the Penn Quakers have played here since 1895 (which is also when the Penn Relay Carnival, the nation's premier track-and-field event, began), and in the current stadium since 1922. That year, it supposedly hosted the first football game ever broadcast on radio (a claim the University of Pittsburgh disputes), and in 1939 it supposedly hosted the first football game ever televised (a claim New York's Columbia University disputes). The amazing building in the west end zone is the University administration building.

The original Franklin Field was the 1st midpoint/neutral site game for Army vs. Navy: 1899 to 1904, 1906 to 1912, and 1914. The current structure hosted it in 1922, and 1932 to 1935, before it was moved to Municipal/JFK Stadium.

The Eagles played here from 1958 to 1970, including their last NFL Championship, December 26, 1960, beating the Green Bay Packers in a thriller, 17-13. Half a century. Penn's football team has been considerably more successful, having won 14 Ivy League titles since the league was formally founded in 1955.

Like the Palestra, the stadium at Franklin Field is in surprisingly good shape (must be all those Penn/Wharton Business School grads donating for its upkeep), although the playing field has been artificial turf since 1969. Same trolley stop as the Palestra.

* Site of the Philadelphia Civic Center. This complex included the Convention Hall, where Franklin D. Roosevelt was nominated for President by the Democrats in 1936, Wendell Willkie by the Republicans in 1940 and both Harry Truman and Thomas E. Dewey were nominated in 1948 – that year's Republican Convention being the first televised convention. It was built on the site of the Exposition Auditorium, where the Republicans renominated William McKinley in 1900.

(The Democrats met in Atlantic City at the Convention Hall, now named Boardwalk Hall, in 1964, nominating Lyndon Johnson. 2301 Boardwalk at Mississippi Avenue. New Jersey Transit Atlantic City Line from 30th Street Station. The Beatles played there a few days before.)

The Beatles played here on September 2, 1964. Pope John Paul II said Mass here. The Philadelphia Warriors played here from 1952 to 1962, when they moved to San Francisco (and now the "Golden State Warriors" play in Oakland), and the 76ers from 1963 until the Spectrum opened in 1967. Titles were won here by the 1956 Warriors and the 1967 76ers. The Philadelphia Blazers played the 1st World Hockey Association season here, 1972-73, but were terrible, and with the Flyers on the way up, nobody wanted to see the WHA team. They moved to Vancouver the next season.

So many Philly area greats played here, in high school, college and the pros, but you need know one name -- pardon the pun -- above all others: Wilt Chamberlain. I saw a concert here in 1989, and the acoustics were phenomenal, with a horseshoe of seats and a stage at one end, much like Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City and the building once known as the Baltimore Civic Center.

Built in 1931, it was demolished in 2005 to make way for the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine. an addition to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. 34th Street & Civic Center Boulevard. Same stop as the Palestra and Franklin Field, which are a block away.

* Site of Philadelphia Arena. Built in 1920, this was the first home of the NBA's Warriors from 1946 to 1952, and site of some 76ers home games as well. It seated only 6,500 at its peak, so the Civic Center and later the Spectrum were preferable.

The Arena made its name hosting college hockey: Penn playing there was understandable, but, at the time, Princeton and even faraway Yale did not have their own rinks, and used the Arena as home ice.
The worst team in NHL history played there: The 1930-31 Philadelphia Quakers. After 5 seasons as the Pittsburgh Pirates, they clowned their way to a record of 4 wins, 40 losses and 4 ties, making them about as bad as the worst team in NBA history, the 1972-73 76ers (9-73). They were strapped during this 2nd indoor sports season of the Great Depression, and went out of business thereafter. Although several minor-league teams would play at the Arena -- the Arrows, the Comets, the Ramblers, the Falcons and the Rockets -- it would not be until 1967, with the opening of the Spectrum and the beginning of the Flyers, that Philly would have another NHL team.

Baseball pitcher-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday delivered sermons there in the 1920s,, and Charles Lindbergh used it for an America First speech in 1940. Early in his career, Elvis sang at the Arena on back-to-back days, doing 2 shows each on April 5 and 6, 1957.

Philly's ABC affiliate, Channel 6, formerly WFIL and now WPVI, built its studio next-door. It still stands. The Arena does not: It caught fire on August 24, 1983, and had to be demolished. A housing project is on the site today. 4530 Market Street. Market Street Line to 46th Street.

* Talen Energy Stadium. Built in 2010 for the expansion Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer, and named PPL Park until last year when PPL was bought by Talen Energy, it seats 18,500 people, on the bank of the Delaware River in Chester, under the Commodore Barry Bridge (U.S. Route 222), linking it with Gloucester County, New Jersey.

The main supporters' section is called the River End, and is home to The Sons of Ben. The group named themselves after Benjamin Franklin, and they created an alternate logo for the team, showing a skull, with a Liberty Bell-style crack in it, wearing Franklin's hairstyle and bifocals, on a kite-shaped background. Of course, fans of the rival New York Red Bulls and D.C. United tend to call them The Daughters of Betsy -- after Ross. The U.S. national team played Colombia there on October 12, 2010, but lost.

1 Stadium Drive, in Chester. SEPTA Wilmington/Newark Line train to the Chester Transportation Center, then shuttle buses leaving every 20 minutes will take you to the stadium. If you're only going for a visit, not a game when there would be plenty of police protection, do not visit at night: Chester can be a dangerous city.

* Site of Frankford Stadium. Philadelphia's 1st pro football team was the Frankford Yellow Jackets, who played at Frankford Stadium in Northeast Philly from 1924 to 1930, winning the 1926 NFL Championship, before a fire on the eve of the 1931 season forced them into Baker Bowl and then into folding.

The stadium was on a plot bounded by Frankford Avenue, Devereaux Avenue, Hawthorne Street and Benner Street. An AutoZone (at 6137 Frankford) and rowhouses are on the site now. Market-Frankford Line to Frankford Transportation Center, then transfer to SEPTA Bus 66 Frankford & Harbison Avenues.

In addition to the Yellow Jackets, another ill-fated team played in Eastern Pennsylvania in the NFL's early days. The Pottsville Maroons played at the 5,000-seat Minersville Park, at the intersection of Sunbury Road and Prison Road, 106 miles northwest of Philly, from 1920 to 1928. They claimed the 1925 NFL Championship, but may have been "robbed" of the title.

* Site of Broadwood Hotel. From 1924 to 1991, this hotel stood at the intersection of Broad and Wood Streets, just north of Center City. From 1924 to 1946, its ballroom was the home of the Philadelphia SPHAs -- a basketball team run by the South Philadelphia Hebrew Association, even though it wasn't in South Philly. This team would evolve into the Warriors. A parking deck for Hahnemann University Hospital is on the site now. Broad Street Line to Race-Vine.

* Site of Cherry Hill Arena. Before the Devils, the 1st hockey team with major league pretensions to call New Jersey home was actually in South Jersey. In the 1973-74 World Hockey Association season, the former New York Raiders set up shop at the Cherry Hill Arena in Bergen County, and renamed themselves the Jersey Knights.

The building went up in 1959 as the Ice House, and was later renamed the Delaware Valley Gardens before assuming its most familiar name, but no one was confusing it with Madison Square Garden (old or new), the Boston Garden or Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Sports Illustrated called it "perhaps the worst facility" used by any WHA team, noting that it lacked showers in the dressing room for visiting teams, who had to dress at a Holiday Inn 2 miles away, and that the ice surface was not even level, giving the home team a distinct advantage, as, 2 periods out of every 3, the visitors would have to skate uphill to the opponent's goal.

The Eastern Hockey League placed 2 teams there: The Jersey Larks in 1960-61, and the Jersey Devils (the 1st pro hockey team with the name) from 1964 until 1973, when the arrival of the Knights forced their move. The Philadelphia Warriors played an occasional "home game" there.

The Knights left for San Diego after the 1973-74 season. In 1978, the Arena was renamed The Centrum, and the Northeastern Hockey League placed the Jersey Aces there, but they only lasted a few games. The Arena was demolished in 1981. 

The site is now a parking lot for a shopping center that includes a Burger King and a Retro Fitness. 1447 Brace Road, at Haddonfield-Berlin Road. Not easy to reach by public transit: PATCO train to Haddonfield, then almost a half-hour walk.

* Temple University. Straddling the border between Center City and the mostly-black North Philadelphia ghetto, Temple has given thousands of poor urban kids a chance to make something of themselves, including comedian Bill Cosby, who ran track for the school, including in the Penn Relays at Franklin Field.

Temple now plays basketball at the Liacouras Center, at 1776 N. Broad Street, across from its former arena, McGonigle Hall, at 1800. Broad Street Line to Cecil B. Moore station.

The Owls have played football at the South Philly complex since 1978, first at The Vet and now at the Linc. From 1928 to 1977, they played at Temple Stadium, a 20,000-seat facility on the city's northern edge. On September 25, 1968, the U.S. soccer team played Israel to a draw there. It was demolished in 1996, and, like Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium, the site is now home to a church. 2800 Pickering Avenue at Vernon Road. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center, then transfer to the Number 18 bus toward Cedarbook Mall.

* LaSalle University. All of Philly's Big 5 basketball universities are private; unlike Penn and Temple, La Salle, St. Joe's and 'Nova are Catholic. LaSalle is in the northernmost reaches of the city, its bookstore at 1900 W. Olney Avenue, and the Explorers' new Tom Gola Arena, named for their late 1950s superstar and 1960s coach, and 2100 W. Olney. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center.

* St. Joseph's University. St. Joe's straddles the western edge of the city, on a hill bisected by City Line Avenue. They are known for their Hawk mascot flapping his wings throughout the game, never stopping, thus leading to the chant, "The Hawk will never die!" This, of course, leads their Big 5 opponents to chant, "The Hawk must die!" and, if victorious, "The Hawk is dead!"

Their fieldhouse, now named the Michael J. Hagan Arena, is at 2450 N. 54th Street, and features a plaque commemorating a 1967 speech delivered there by Martin Luther King. Number 44 bus from Center City.

* Villanova University. The Wildcats just won their 2nd National Championship, defeating North Carolina in a thriller in Houston, 31 years after their even more amazing upset of Georgetown in Lexington, Kentucky.

Famously (well, famous within the Philadelphia area, anyway), they played a Big 5 game against St. Joe's at the Palestra a few years back, having beaten each of the other Big 5 schools, and, pulling away, their fans chanted, "We own Philly!" The St. Joe's fans, no fools, reminded them of their location, in the town of Villanova, 18 miles northwest of Center City: "You ain't Philly!"

Jake Nevin Field House, their home at the time of their 1985 National Championship, and The Pavilion, which that success allowed them to build, are next to each other, along with their bookstore, at 800 E. Lancaster Avenue. They also have a 12,500-seat stadium for their Division I-AA football team. SEPTA Lansdale/Doylestown Line to Villanova Station.

Of the Big 5, only Temple plays Division I-A football: Temple, 'Nova and LaSalle play I-AA, and while St. Joseph's Prep has one of the better programs in Philly-area high school football, their collegiate namesake doesn't play football at all.

* Spike's Trophies. When the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society closed its facility in the northern suburb of Hatboro, they moved their operations, and the plaques honoring A's greats that used to be on the concourse wall at the Vet, to this store near Northeast Philadelphia Airport. 2701 Grant Avenue at Ashton Road. Market-Frankford Line to Frankford Transportation Center, then transfer to Number 50 Bus.

* Laurel Hill Cemetery. This is the final resting place of former Phillies manager Harry Wright, who founded the 1st professional team, the Cincinnati Red Stockings, in 1869; and of longtime broadcaster Harry Kalas. 215 Belmont Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, not far from the St. Joe's campus. Use the Number 44 bus to get to both.

* Gladwyne Methodist Church. Kalas' longtime broadcast partner, the Hall of Fame center fielder Richie "Whitey" Ashburn, is laid to rest here. 316 Righters Mill Road in Gladwyne. The Number 44 bus can also be used for this.

* Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. This is the final resting place of Connie Mack. 3301 W. Cheltenham Avenue. Broad Street Line to Olney Transportation Center, then Number 22 bus.

Philadelphia is home to Independence National Historic Park, including Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. The Visitor's Center is at 6th & Market Streets: At this complex, there will be people there to advise you on what to do. 5th Street on the Market Street Line.

The President's House -- that's as formal a name as it had -- was where George Washington (1790-97) and John Adams (1797-1800) lived while Philadelphia was the national capital before Washington, D.C.. It was demolished in 1832. When digging to build the new Liberty Bell Center, the house's foundation was found, and somebody must've asked, "Why didn't anybody think of this before?" So, an exhibit has been set up, at 530 Market Street at 6th. The new Liberty Bell Center is between it and Independence Hall (Chestnut Street between 5th and 6th). Be advised that since 9/11 -- and since the movie National Treasure -- they're understandably a bit finicky about security there.

The oldest surviving Presidential residence (chosen specifically for the President, not counting homes like Mount Vernon or Monticello) is the Germantown White House, which still stands at 5442 Germantown Avenue. George Washington and John Adams used it to escape the heat and, more importantly, the yellow fever epidemics of what's now Center City Philadelphia, making it less "the first Summer White House" and more "the first Camp David." SEPTA Chestnut Hill West Line to Germantown, then 3 blocks down Armat Street and a left on Germantown Avenue. Definitely not safe at night.

Speaking of George Washington, Valley Forge National Historical Park is just an hour's bus ride from Suburban Station. On JFK Blvd. at 17th Street, board the SEPTA 125 bus. Valley Forge Casino Resort and the King of Prussia Mall are a short drive (or a moderate walk) away. The fare is $4.75 each way ($9.50 total).

Only one President has ever come from Pennsylvania, and he might be the worst one of all: James Buchanan, whose Administration began with the Panic of 1857 and ended with the secession of several Southern States. (Whether Buchanan was gay has been debated since even before he became President, but the evidence is flimsy.) His home, Wheatland, still stands at 1120 Marietta Avenue in Lancaster, and he's buried about a mile away in Greenwood Cemetery. But Lancaster, the heart of "Pennsylvania Dutch Country," is 80 miles west of Philly. It's a cheap trip by Amtrak standards, but unless you've always wanted to visit the area, or you're a big history buff, I'd suggest forgetting about it if you're pressed for time.

The Musical Fund Hall hosted the 1st Republican National Convention in 1856, nominating John C. Fremont for President. (He lost to Buchanan.) It was one of many historical meetings at this building, which has stood since 1824. 808 Locust Street, Center City. The Academy of Music hosted their 1872 Convention, renominating President Ulysses S. Grant. It opened in 1857, and hosted the Philadelphia Orchestra from 1900 to 2001, when the Kimmel Center opened across Locust Street. 240 S. Broad Street, Center City.

And the Walnut Street Theatre, which opened in 1809 and is the oldest continuously operating theater in America, hosted the 1st Presidential Debate of the 1976 campaign, between Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter. 825 Walnut Street, Center City.

Philadelphia's answer to the Museum of Natural History is the University of Pennsylvania Museum, at 33rd & South Streets, across from Franklin Field. (Same trolley stop.) Their answer to the Hayden Planetarium -- and a better one -- is the Franklin Institute, which is also the national memorial to Big Ben, the man who, more than any man made any city in the Western Hemisphere, made Philadelphia. 20th Street & Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Number 76 bus. 76, get it? The bus is nicknamed "The Ben FrankLine."

At the other end of the Parkway, at 25th and Spring Garden Streets, is Philly's answer to the Metropolitan, the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The Rocky Balboa statue is here, and it doesn't cost anything except sweat to run up the steps.

The chocolate city of Hershey, Pennsylvania is 95 miles west of Center City, and only 15 miles east of the State Capitol in Harrisburg. The smell of chocolate wafts over the city, and is the source of the nickname "The Sweetest Place On Earth." Amtrak goes from 30th Street station to Harrisburg and nearby Middletown (the home of the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, which is still in operation and hasn't had an incident since the one in 1979), but if you want to go to any prominent place in Hersey, you'll have to rely on local bus service.

There are 4 prominent places in Hershey. There's the Hershey's chocolate factory. There's Hersheypark amusement park. There's Hersheypark Stadium is a 15,641-seat high school football stadium, opened in 1939. On May 9, 1990, the U.S. soccer team beat Poland there. Most notably, Hersheypark Arena, formerly Hershey Sports Arena, which now seats 7,286 people. The Warriors and 76ers played a few home games here, including the March 2, 1962 contest between the Warriors and the Knicks, when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points.

The minor-league Hershey Bears used it from its opening in 1936 until 2002, when the 10,500-seat Giant Center opened next-door. It still hosts college hockey and concerts. Appropriately, the address of the Arena is 100 W. Hershey Park Drive.

No college football rivalry has been played more than Lafayette College and Lehigh University, separated by 17 miles of U.S. Route 22 in Northeastern Pennsylvania. Lafayette is in Easton, 69 miles north of Center City; Lehigh is in Bethlehem, 56 miles north. On occasion, they've played each other twice and, during World War II, even 3 times a season. Now, they limit themselves to 1. In 2014, on the occasion of their 150th meeting, they played each other at the new Yankee Stadium, with Lafayette winning. Lehigh won last year, but Lafayette leads the series, 78-68-5.

Lehigh's Goodman Stadium hosted a U.S. soccer game on October 23, 1993, a draw vs. Ukraine -- although I doubt too many people in the Delaware Valley were paying attention, as that was the day of Game 6 of the World Series, which the Phillies lost to the Toronto Blue Jays on the Joe Carter home run.

Believe it or not, it's easier to reach both Easton and Bethlehem without a car from New York than it is from Philadelphia: Transbridge Lines runs buses from Port Authority into the Lehigh Valley, and Susquehanna Trailways runs them from Philly's Greyhound Terminal at 1001 N. Filbert Street, across from the Market East Station.

Not surprisingly for a city of its size, Philadelphia has had a few TV shows set there, but not many actually filmed there. Boy Meets World was filmed entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. (Its sequel series, Girl Meets World, featuring Cory & Topanga Matthews and their kids, is set in New York.) Neither does It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia film in Philly -- and it is not always sunny there. Nor did Thirtysomething film there. Nor did Body of Proof. And, being a cartoon, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids didn't have to "film" anywhere.

The 1960s flashback series American Dreams did some filming under the Market Street Elevated Line, but most of it was filmed in L.A. The films PhiladelphiaThe Philadelphia Story and The Philadelphia Experiment had a few Philly locations put in, but all filming was done in Southern California. For chronological reasons, the film version of the musical 1776 couldn't be filmed on the streets of Philadelphia, or even inside Independence Hall -- although National Treasure used the Hall, and the Franklin Institute, and the Reading Terminal Market.

Probably the best-known film set in the city is Trading Places -- except a lot of it was filmed in and around New York! The New York Chamber of Commerce Building (65 Liberty Street) and the Seventh Regiment Armory (643 Park Avenue) stood in for the Heritage Club. Mill Neck Manor for the Deaf on Long Island stood in for the Duke Brothers' estate. And, of course, the climactic scene was set at the New York Mercantile Exchange, at 4 World Trade Center, which was at destroyed in the 9/11 attacks. Locations in the film that were absolutely in Philly were: 30th Street Station; Duke & Duke, at Fidelity Bank at 135 S. Broad Street, 2 blocks south of City Hall; and Lewis Winthorpe's residence, with exterior shots at 2014 Delancey Place at 20th Street, near Rittenhouse Square, which is where Eddie Murphy pretended to be a blind, legless Vietnam veteran. (This is a private residence: Walk down there if you like, but leave the residents alone.)


So, to sum up, I would definitely recommend to any Devils fan to follow their team to nearby Philadelphia. But be warned: These are Flyer fans. Stay safe, and good luck. (To the team, too.)