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Philadelphia Veterans Stadium Reduced to Rubble

Tue March 23, 2004 - National Edition

PHILADELPHIA (AP) Veterans Stadium was reduced to a pile of rubble in just more than a minute on Sunday as hundreds of people gathered to watch the demolition.

About 3,000 pounds of explosives took down the old concrete home of the Philadelphia Phillies and Eagles, section by section in a clockwise direction as loud booms rang out.

"Ladies and gentlemen, you just witnessed history," team announcer Dan Baker told the cheering crowd of several hundred people. One onlooker played Taps on a silver trumpet to mark the occasion.

Former Phillies slugger Greg Luzinski, a member of the 1980 World Series team, and the Phillie Phanatic pushed a ceremonial red plunger as the explosions began.

"That was a big one," Luzinski said. "It took 2 and a half years to build it and it went down quick."

A large area around the sports complex in South Philadelphia was closed off, and airspace above the stadium was restricted to a 1,500-ft. elevation for a quarter-mile radius during the implosion.

Passing truckers blared their air horns in salute and, at one point, dozens of bystanders tried to cross over a police barricade, but were pushed back by police. A siren blared several minutes before the detonation, which began after Mayor John Street’s 10-second countdown.

When it was over, a large cloud of dust rose over the site, home to the Phillies and the Eagles for more than 30 years. All that remained was a pile of concrete slabs and pillars.

Firefighters hosed down the rubble to contain the dust, which was so thick from some vantage points that the implosion was obscured and only the thundering booms could be heard.

Once the dust settles, workers will begin breaking down the concrete pieces, which will amount to 70,000 cu. yds. (53,519 cu m) of material. Contractors will be recycling debris on the site until July, and the spot will eventually serve as a 5,500-space parking lot.

The Phillies plan to paint an outline of the Vet’s playing field across the new parking lot, and place granite markers at the former home plate, pitching mound and base locations.

New baseball-only and football-only stadiums have been built nearby to replace the Vet. The Eagles began playing in their new home, Lincoln Financial Field, last year. The Phillies played their last game at the Vet in September; their season opener in Citizens Bank Park is April 12.

"In some respects, Veterans Stadium became a relic," Mayor John Street said. "We really had to let it go.’"

John Middleton, 20, was one of many fans gathered to pay last respects to the stadium. "It’s amazing how emotional you can get about a giant slab of concrete," he said.