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The Wachovia Center (formerly the First Union Center and the CoreStates Center), home of the Philadelphia Flyers and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has a rich tradition of sports, from club sports in the mid-nineteenth century to the professional teams and events of today.

Contents

Major-league professional teams

Philadelphia has a long and proud history of professional sports teams. Philadelphia fans have a reputation of avid devotion to their teams, in good times and in bad. Of late, Philadelphia teams have been performing well, but have much more often than not missed championships by failing in the crucial stages. Some locals jokingly attributed this to the "Curse of Billy Penn". The city most recently saw its first major championship since 1983 when the Phillies defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in the 2008 World Series. Also, Philadelphia sports teams have befallen to what John Smallwood of The Philadelphia Daily News called the "Curse of the Inauguration,"[1] an alleged curse on all Philadelphia sports teams for their inability to win a championship during a presidential inaugural year,[1] beginning with the 76ers loss in the 1977 NBA Finals.

The Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, 76ers, and Union have dedicated venues built for them. The Eagles currently play at Lincoln Financial Field ("The Linc"), built in 2003. The Phillies play at Citizens Bank Park, which opened in 2004. The Flyers and 76ers share the Wachovia Center, opened in 1996, with the Philadelphia Wings (NLL) indoor lacrosse team. Philadelphia Union plays their home games at Union Field at Chester in the suburb of Chester, about 13 miles south of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is the only North American city in which all of its teams (Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and 76ers) from the four major sports leagues have played for their respective championships in one year, 1980. However, only the Phillies were able to earn a championship, by defeating the Kansas City Royals in six games in the 1980 World Series. The Eagles lost to the Oakland Raiders, 27-10, in Super Bowl XV, the Flyers fell to the New York Islanders in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals, and the 76ers bowed to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in six games, as well.

Philadelphia is also one of a small handful of cities, which include Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, where all of its teams from the four major leagues play within the city limits. In fact, Philadelphia's four major sports teams play within blocks of one another, with the three home venues forming the South Philadelphia Sports Complex.

Philadelphia has also been home to the Philadelphia Athletics (MLB, now the Oakland Athletics), and the Philadelphia Warriors (NBA, now the Golden State Warriors).

Veterans Stadium, a now-demolished multipurpose sports stadium, formerly housed both the Philadelphia Eagles football team and the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team, along with the college football Temple Owls.
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Baseball

Shibe Park, aka Connie Mack Stadium, home of the Phillies from 1938 to 1970

The city's sole existing Major League Baseball team is the Philadelphia Phillies. Founded as the Philadelphia Quakers in 1883, the team changed its name to the Phillies in 1890. They currently compete in National League East, and have won the World Series twice, in 1980 and 2008.

Still in existence are the Philadelphia Athletics, though they are no longer in Philadelphia. The Athletics were founded in 1901 in the American League to compete with the Phillies. They played their last season in Philadelphia in 1954 before moving to Kansas City and eventually, in 1968 moving to Oakland.

Several Philadelphia teams are now defunct. The Philadelphia White Stockings played in the National Association of Professional Baseball Players from 1873-1875. They renamed their franchise twice as the Philadelphia Pearls in 1874 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1875. The Philadelphia Centennials played in the National Association of Professional Baseball Players in 1875 but failed to complete a season before folding. The Philadelphia Keystones played one season in the Union Association in 1884. The Philadelphia Quakers played one season in the Players League in 1890. The Philadelphia Stars played in the Negro National League from 1934 to 1948.

Basketball

Philadelphia has been represented in the National Basketball Association by the Warriors (now in Oakland, California) and the 76ers. Defunct teams include the Fusion of the American Basketball Association and the Fox of the Women's Professional Basketball League as well as the American Basketball League's Rage.

Warriors

76ers

Tapers

The Philadelphia Tapers played in the American Basketball League from 1962-1963.

Fusion

The Philadelphia Fusion, formerly the Jersey Squires, was an American Basketball Association (ABA) team. The team folded in February 2005 with a record of 3-10.

Rage

The Philadelphia Rage moved from Richmond, Virginia in 1997 and played a year and a half in the American Basketball League before the league folded in mid-season in 1998.

Football

Philadelphia has been the home of two National Football League teams, one Arena Football League team, one World Football League team, one USFL league team, and one Women's Professional Team.

The city's first NFL team was the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Originally a community athletic-association team in the Frankford neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia dating back to about 1900, the club became one of the early NFL clubs in 1924. The Yellow Jackets won the NFL championship in 1926. Its home field was Frankford Stadium (also called Yellow Jacket Field). The club disbanded in the 1931 season.

Two years after the Yellow Jackets folded, Bert Bell and Lud Wray bought the franchise rights and formed a new team, the Philadelphia Eagles. They are members of the East Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The Eagles have won three NFL titles and made two Super Bowl appearances, in 1980 and 2004, but have never won the trophy.

Other teams in the city have folded. The Philadelphia Soul were an Arena Football League franchise from 2004 to 2008. They played at both the Wachovia Center and Wachovia Spectrum. The Philadelphia Soul won the last Arena Football League Championship in 2008 before the league folded in 2009. The Philadelphia Bell was a franchise of the World Football League, which operated in 1974 and for a portion of a season in 1975. It played its home games in JFK Stadium. The Philadelphia Stars (football) were a football team in the USFL in 1983-84, after which they became the Baltimore Stars for their final season in 1985. They won the USFL Championship in 1984. The Philadelphia Bulldogs played in the Continental Football league from 1965-1967. They won the 1966 championship. The Philadelphia Quakers played in the American Football League in 1926 and won the championship in 1926. In 1902 the MLB owners of the Philadelphia Phillies, Athletics, and Pittsburgh Pirates created 3 football teams with the same names and called it the National Football League. Pittsburgh was declared the champion after one season of play.

The city's first women's tackle football team was the Philadelphia Liberty Belles. Founded in 2001, they won the first Women’s National Football Championship in the league’s inaugural season. The club disbanded in the after the 2004 season. The Liberty Belles have reformed for the 2009 season and have joined the new Women's Football Alliance.

Ice hockey

Quakers

The Philadelphia Quakers were a National Hockey League team that played only one full season, 1930-31, at the Philadelphia Arena. They were the successors of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers were part of the 1967 NHL Expansion, the league's first. They have won two championships, the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cups.

Blazers

Soccer

Philadelphia Union

Philadelphia Union will begin play in 2010 at Union Field at Chester in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Women's Professional Soccer team

Women's Professional Soccer will also be placing an expansion team in Philadelphia beginning in 2010. As with the new Major League Soccer franchise, the women's team will play at Union Field at Chester.

KiXX

The Philadelphia KiXX are an indoor soccer team in the National Indoor Soccer League. They won the championship in the 2001-2002 and 2006-2007 seasons.

Lacrosse

Wings

The Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League play at the Wachovia Center in South Philadelphia. The Wings have won the NLL title six times, in 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1998, and 2001. They are currently the longest-tenured team in one location in the NLL.

Barrage

Team tennis

Freedom

Minor-league professional teams

Ice hockey

Phantoms

The Philadelphia Phantoms were a minor-league hockey team from 1996 to 2009 that played at the Wachovia Spectrum. The franchise won two Calder Cups, in 1997-98, and 2004-05. After the 2008-09 AHL season, the team relocated to Glens Falls, New York due to the closing of the Wachovia Spectrum.

Firebirds

The Philadelphia Firebirds were a minor-league hockey team from 1974-1979. They played in the defunct North American Hockey League from 1974-1977, winning the league championship in 1976. When the NAHL folded in 1977, they joined the American Hockey League, where they played from 1977-1979. In 1979, the team moved to Syracuse, N.Y. They played their home games at the Philadelphia Civic Center, razed in 2005.

Semi-professional, amateur, and community teams

Football

Rugby

The Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC are the only semi-professional rugby union team in Philadelphia. The team was formed in 1985, due to the merging of the Philadelphia and Whitemarsh clubs. The team competes in the Rugby Super League.

The Schuylkill River Exiles Rugby Football team is one of two Division 1 rugby team located in Philadelphia. The team plays matches at FDR park located across from the major Philadelphia sports teams stadiums. The Exiles are members of and compete in MARFU, The Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union, and are also members of USA rugby. The team competes against various other local area teams and plays matches against teams from Boston to Charlotte and out to Pittsburgh.

Media Rugby Football Club is a Division 1 Rugby Union organization and a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, charitable organization based outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (EIN 23-2799960). It exists to play and promote the sport of Rugby Union and to further the growth of the sport in the United States. Media Rugby is a member organization of USA Rugby and the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Union.

Philadelphia is the home of rugby league and will have a team in the new National Rugby League USA competition starting March 2010 in the US and has two community clubs in the American National Rugby League, the Glen Mills Bulls and the Philadelphia Fight. The game was re-introduced into the USA by David Niu, an Australian who is now an American national and is still a regular in the United States national rugby league team who will soon be competing in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup qualifying match against Japan in Philadelphia in October 2006.

Philadelphia hosted the St Patrick's Day international between USA and Ireland six times between 1995 and 2004.

Cricket

Cricket has a long history of play in Philadelphia and is arguably the hotbed for cricket in the US.[2] It was the center of the "golden age" of American cricket in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Philadelphia Cricket Club was founded in 1854.[3] Greats such as Bart King, Percy Clark and Christie Morris played for the team in its prime. Though it was disbanded in 1924, it was revived in 1998. There are also cricket clubs in Germantown and Merion.

Since 1993, the city has been home to the annual Philadelphia International Cricket Festival, held during the first weekend in May, benefiting the Inglis Foundation. Each year, twelve teams, including five from the area and seven from across the United States or guest international sides, are invited to participate in the Festival.

Major professional championships

Championships won by Philadelphia teams in the four major leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL):

1910 Philadelphia Athletics

1911 Philadelphia Athletics

1913 Philadelphia Athletics

1926 Frankford Yellow Jackets

1929 Philadelphia Athletics

1930 Philadelphia Athletics

1948 Philadelphia Eagles

1949 Philadelphia Eagles

1955-56 Philadelphia Warriors

1960 Philadelphia Eagles

1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers

1973-74 Philadelphia Flyers

1974-75 Philadelphia Flyers

1980 Philadelphia Phillies

1982-83 Philadelphia 76ers

2008 Philadelphia Phillies

Professional and world-class events

Several events are competed in Philadelphia on a regular basis.

Cycling

Philadelphia International Championship

The Manayunk area of the city is home to the annual Philadelphia International Championship bike race. The main feature of the race is the "Manayunk Wall", an inclined street including all of Levering Avenue and a few blocks of Lyceum Avenue. The race has been largely credited with the economic revival of the neighborhood, and cycling is a prominent theme of many of the shops and restaurants in the area.

Competed at the same time and over the same course is the women's Liberty Classic.

Track and field, road racing

Penn Relays

Philadelphia hosts the annual Penn Relays, held at Franklin Field, the largest early-season track and field meet in the U.S.

Broad Street Run

One of the busiest streets in the city, Broad Street, is closed to traffic for the annual Broad Street Run, a 10-mile race contested since 1980.

Philadelphia Distance Run

Philadelphia Marathon

The Philadelphia Marathon (aka the Philadelphia Independence Marathon), founded in 1954, is an annual marathon sporting event held on the third Sunday of November.

Pro tour tennis

Pro tour golf

Collegiate sports

Football

The Army-Navy football game, an annual football game between the rival service academies West Point and the United States Naval Academy, has been held more often in Philadelphia (which is located approximately midway between the two schools) than in all other locations put together. Eleven of the past fifteen Army–Navy Games have been held in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia-area school with a Division I football team is Temple University. However, many Philadelphia residents are fans of the Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions Division I Football team.

Basketball

College basketball at the University of Pennsylvania's Palestra, home of the Big Five.

Since 1955, Philadelphia has been home to the Big Five, a unique basketball rivalry among five local Division I universities: Temple, St. Joe's, Penn, Villanova, and La Salle. The Big Five have played many of their games at the Palestra, Penn's venerable gymnasium. The Big 5 rivalry is unique because each of the schools has a rich basketball history and each school is located within a fifteen mile radius of all of the others.

Drexel University also fields a Division I team and makes up the City 6 in extramurals with the Big 5.

In addition, Division II teams are fielded by Chestnut Hill College, Holy Family University, Philadelphia University (men and women), and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.

Rowing

Boathouse Row on the Schuylkill River.

Philadelphia hosts numerous local and collegiate rowing clubs and competitions, including the annual Dad Vail Regatta, the largest intercollegiate rowing event in the U.S., and the Stotesbury Cup Regatta [1], both held on the Schuylkill River. Boathouse Row is a symbol of Philadelphia's rich rowing history. Each Big 5 member has its own boathouse.

High-school sports

Public League

In 2005, the Public League joined the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, as District 12. The first state championship won by a Public League team was the Preparatory Charter High School basketball team, winning the AA state basketball championship in 2006.

Catholic League

Interacademic League

Interleague play

Boxing

Philadelphia does have a rich history of boxing. The city is home to The Blue Horizon, which is considered one of the finest boxing establishments in the world. The Arena was named 2006 Venue of the Year by ESPN2 boxing program Wednesday Night Fights.

Joe Frazier

Originally a native of Beaufort, South Carolina, former world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist, Joe Frazier, currently resides in Philadelphia having lived there for most of his career. He currently owns and manages a boxing gym.

Bernard Hopkins

Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins is a former world middleweight champion. Hopkins defended the Middleweight Championship a record 20 times losing via split decision to Jermain Taylor. He is also the oldest middleweight champion. His career remains active in the light heavyweight division, which is the division he debuted.

Auto racing

While Philadelphia does not currently host any professional automobile racing, midget car racing was popular during the 1930s and '40s. The two major tracks were Yellow Jacket Speedway, which closed in 1950, and National Speedway, which closed during World War II as a result of fuel rationing. Races were sanctioned by the American Automobile Association.[4]

In 2005, the Champ Car World Series began negotiating with the city to organize a race. Several locations for a street course were discussed including the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Fairmount Park, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, but no agreement could be reached.[5]

Philadelphia is in close proximity to Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and the defunct Langhorne Speedway, Nazareth Speedway and Flemington Speedway.

References


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