John F. Kennedy Stadium: Wikis


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John F. Kennedy Stadium
Municipal Stadium Philadelphia.jpg
Former names Sesquicentennial Stadium (1926)
Philadelphia Municipal Stadium (1926-1964)
John F. Kennedy Stadium (1964-1992)
Location S Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19148
Coordinates 39°54′05″N 75°10′19″W / 39.9014°N 75.1719°W / 39.9014; -75.1719Coordinates: 39°54′05″N 75°10′19″W / 39.9014°N 75.1719°W / 39.9014; -75.1719
Opened April 15, 1926
Closed July 13, 1989
Demolished 1992
Owner City of Philadelphia
Surface Grass
Architect Simon & Simon
Capacity 100,000
Philadelphia Quakers (AFL) (1926)
Philadelphia Eagles (NFL) (1936-1939, 1941)
Liberty Bowl (NCAA) (1959-1963)
Army–Navy Game (NCAA) (1936-1979)
Philadelphia Bell (WFL) (1974)

John F. Kennedy Stadium (previously Philadelphia Municipal Stadium) was an open-air stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that stood from 1925 to 1992. The South Philadelphia stadium was situated on the east side of the far southern end of Broad Street at a location that is now part of the South Philadelphia Sports Complex. Designed by the architectural firm of Simon & Simon[1] in a classic 1920s style with a horseshoe seating design that surrounded a track and football field, at its peak the facility seated in excess of 102,000 people. Bleachers were later added at the open (North) end. The field was 110 feet (34 m) wide and 307 feet (94 m) long. It was built of concrete, stone, and brick on a 13.5-acre (55,000 m2) tract.[2]


Opening and names

JFK Stadium was built as part of the 1926 Sesquicentennial International Exposition. Originally known as Sesquicentennial Stadium when it opened April 15, 1926, the structure was renamed "Philadelphia Municipal Stadium"[3] after the Exposition's closing ceremonies. In 1964 it was renamed John F. Kennedy Stadium in memory of the 35th President of the United States who had been assassinated the year before.


The stadium's first tenants (in 1926) were the Philadelphia Quakers of the first American Football League, whose Saturday afternoon home games were a popular mainstay of the Exposition. The Quakers won the league championship but the league folded after one year.

A decade later, the Philadelphia Eagles of the National Football League started a four-season stint as tenants of Philadelphia Municipal Stadium before moving to Shibe Park for the 1940 season. The Eagles played at Shibe Park in 1940, returned to Municipal Stadium in 1941, and back to Shibe Park in 1942, where they would play through 1957. The Eagles also used the stadium for practices in the 1970s and 1980s, even locating their first practice bubble there before moving it to the Veterans Stadium parking lot following the stadium's condemnation.

The stadium became known chiefly as the "neutral" venue for a total of 42 annual Army–Navy Games played there between 1936 to 1979, and during the 1960s it served as Navy's home field when they played Notre Dame.

A.F. “Bud” Dudley, a former Villanova University athletic-director, created the Liberty Bowl in Philadelphia in 1959. The game was played at Municipal Stadium and was the only cold-weather bowl game of its time. It was plagued by poor attendance; the 1963 game between Mississippi State and NC State drew less than 10,000 fans and absorbed a loss in excess of $40,000. The Liberty Bowl’s best game was its first in 1959, when 38,000 fans watched Penn State beat Alabama, 7-0. Atlantic City convinced Dudley to move his game from Philadelphia to Atlantic City's Convention Hall for 1964. 6,059 fans saw Utah rout West Virginia in the first Bowl Game played indoors. Dudley moved the game to Memphis in 1965 where it has been played since.[4]

The stadium hosted Philadelphia's City Title high school football championship game in 1939 and 1978. St. Joe's Prep defeated Northeast, 27 to 6, in 1939. Frankford beat Wood, 27 to 7, in heavy rain in 1978.[5]

The stadium was home to the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League in 1974; the team played at Franklin Field in 1975.

Other sports

On September 23, 1926, an announced crowd of 120,557 packed the then-new Stadium during a rainstorm to witness Gene Tunney capture the world heavyweight boxing title from Jack Dempsey. Undefeated Rocky Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott at the stadium in 1952 to win boxing's heavyweight championship.

JFK Stadium hosted Team America's soccer match against England on May 31, 1976 as part of the 1976 U.S.A. Bicentennial Cup Tournament. In the game, England defeated Team America, 3-1, in front of a small crowd of 16,239. England and Italy had failed to qualify for the 1976 European Championship final tournament and so they joined Brazil and Team America, composed of international stars playing in the North American Soccer League, in the four team competition. Because Team America was composed of international players and was not the American national team, the Football Association does not regard England's match against Team America as an official international match.[6]

JFK Stadium was one of fifteen United States stadia (and along with Franklin Field one of two in Philadelphia) inspected by a five-member FIFA committee in April 1988 in the evaluation of the United States as a possible host of the 1994 FIFA World Cup.[7] By the time the World Cup was held in 1994, JFK Stadium had already been demolished for two years.

Other events

The Philadelphia Flyers won their second Stanley Cup on May 27, 1975, and celebrated with a parade down Broad Street the next day that ended at the stadium. Five years later, the Philadelphia Phillies won their first World Series on October 21 of that year. The following day, the team paraded the exact route.[8]


JFK Stadium holding one of Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! concerts. September 19, 1988.

JFK Stadium occasionally hosted rock concerts, including the American portion of Live Aid on July 13, 1985. The Beatles played at the stadium on August 16, 1966; The Rolling Stones began their 6th U.S. tour at JFK on September 25, 1981.[9] Pink Floyd held a concert there on September 19, 1987 in front of a crowd in excess of 120,000 (general admission was sold on the field), but the show was not sold out.

Other notable acts to play at the stadium included Van Halen, The Who, The Police, Yes, Aerosmith, Marvin Gaye, B.B. King, Michael Jackson, The Beach Boys, U2, Genesis, the Grateful Dead, Ozzy Osbourne, and Journey. Judy Garland gave her last concert in America here in 1968.

Led Zeppelin was scheduled to close their 1977 United States Tour at the stadium, but the final 7 concerts of the tour were cancelled following the death of Robert Plant's 5 year old son Karac. Led Zeppelin never played in the United States again.[10] Peter Frampton returned from a seven-month lay-off and played with Lynyrd Skynyrd and the J. Geils Band before 91,000 fans on June 12, 1977 at JFK.[11]

It was not known at the time but the last event at the stadium was the Grateful Dead's concert on July 7, 1989. Bruce Hornsby & The Range opened. Fans at the show recall concrete crumbling from the stadium and bathrooms in poor shape. The Dead closed the show with Knockin' on Heaven's Door; it would be the last song played at the stadium.[12]

Closing and demolition

JFK Stadium was condemned on July 13, 1989 by Mayor Wilson Goode after the Dead show on July 7, 1989.[13] The stadium was demolished in 1992.[14],[15]

The 1993 Philadelphia stop for the Lollapalooza music festival was held at the JFK Stadium site on July 18, 1993. The site was an open field as construction had not yet begun on the then still tentatively named "Spectrum II" (Wachovia Center). This was the show at which Rage Against the Machine did not play in protest of the Parents Music Resource Center.[16]

The Wachovia Center now stands on the site, which is part of the complex that includes the Wachovia Spectrum, Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park.


  1. ^ * City Architect; Department of City Architecture; Philadelphia Information Locator System
  2. ^ "JFK Stadium: End Zone Near". Philadelphia Inquirer. 1992-02-05. p. B2. 
  3. ^ E.L Austin and Odell Hauser. The Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition (Chapter XXX "MUNICIPAL STADIUM") pp 419-423; Philadelphia, PA (1929). 
  4. ^ Antonick, John (2005-06-22). "Unique Game". West Virginia Mountaineers ( Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  5. ^ "FB City Title Recaps". Ted Sillary. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  6. ^ "England 's Minor Tournaments and Cups; U.S.A. Bicentennial Cup Tournament, U.S.A., 1976". England Football Online. Peter Young, Alan Brook, Josh Benn, Chris Goodwin, and Glen Isherwood. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  7. ^ Vecsey, George (1988-04-10). "Sports of The Time; Americans Prepare for Lights, Cameras and Soccer". New York Times.,%20George. Retrieved 2009-04-24. 
  8. ^ Mucha, Peter (2008-10-30). "Parade: 60-plus degrees, 1 million-plus fans". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2008-10-30. 
  9. ^ "American Tour 1981". Rocks Off Setlists. Retrieved 2009-04-28. 
  10. ^ "Led Zeppelin". Page 20 All Shows. Retrieved 2009-07-26. 
  11. ^ Rockwell, Joan (1977-06-13). "Frampton Back, Plays to 91,000; Philadelphia Show Is First Concert in 7 Months Million-Dollar Gross". New York Times. p. 36. Retrieved 2009-07-10. 
  12. ^ "John F. Kennedy Stadium; July 07, 1989; Philadelphia, PA US". Retrieved 2009-04-29. 
  13. ^ "City Closes JFK Stadium". Philadelphia Inquirer. 1989-07-14. 
  14. ^ "Goodbye To JFK Stadium As Demolition Firm Is Hired". Philadelphia Inquirer. 1992-03-10. 
  15. ^ "Wreckers, 1, JFK Stadium, 0". Philadelphia Inquirer. 1992-04-21. 
  16. ^ "Lollapalooza 1993 - John F. Kennedy Stadium, Philadelphia, PA". Jane's 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2008-09-17. 

Further reading

External links

Preceded by

Baker Bowl
Shibe Park
Home of the
Philadelphia Eagles

1936 – 1939
Succeeded by
Shibe Park
Preceded by
first stadium
Home of the
Liberty Bowl

1959 – 1963
Succeeded by
Atlantic City Convention Hall


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