John F. Kennedy Stadium
Municipal Stadium Philadelphia
Location S Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19148
Opened April 15, 1926
Closed July 13, 1989
Demolished 1992
Owner City of Philadelphia
Surface Grass
Architect Simon & Simon
Former names Sesquicentennial Stadium (1926)
Philadelphia Municipal Stadium (1926-1964)
John F. Kennedy Stadium (1964-1992)
Tenants 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)
Capacity 102,000 (for American football)

John F. Kennedy Stadium (formally 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. Each section of the main portion of the stadium contained its own entrance, which displayed the letters of each section above the entrance, in a nod to ancient Roman stadia. Section designators were divided at the south end of the stadium (the bottom of the "U" shape) between West and East, starting with Sections WA and EA and proceeding north. The north bleachers started with Section NA.

The field was 110 ft (34m) wide and 307 ft (94m) long. It was built of concrete, stone, and brick on a 13.5 acre (55,000 m2 tract.[2]

Opening and namesEdit

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 sportsEdit

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 eventsEdit

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. In 1981, The Rolling Stones announced their World Tour via a press conference at JFK.[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 Supremes played at the stadium on September 10, 1965.

The Beatles played at the stadium on August 16, 1966.

Judy Garland gave her last concert in America here in 1968.

Yes, Peter Frampton, Gary Wright and the Pousette-Dart Band played the "1976 Bicentennial Concert" here on June 12, 1976.

Led Zeppelin was scheduled to conclude their 1977 US Tour at the stadium, but the final 7 concerts of the tour were cancelled, due to the death of Robert Plant's 5 year old son Karac. The original Led Zeppelin never played in the US again, although the surviving members performed at Live Aid.[9]

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 11, 1977.[10]

On June 17, 1978, The Rolling Stones performed before a crowd of 100,000 fans. Opening acts included Bob Marley's former bandmate Peter Tosh and Foreigner. After The Stones finished their set, rowdy concert goers began throwing anything they could get, onto the stage that was shaped into The Rolling Stones "tongue" logo. Damage to the stage was estimated at a million dollars as smoke came pouring out marring an otherwise great day of vintage Rolling Stones. They also began their 6th U.S. tour on September 25, 1981.[11]

Blondie concluded their Tracks Across America Tour here, on August 21, 1982. They disbanded shortly thereafter, due to guitarist Chris Stein being diagnosed with a rare life-threating disease, pemphigus and The Hunter having sold very poorly. They didn't perform live again for 15 years, until 1997. Genesis (band) was the Headliner and used the open air stadium for one of their spectacular nighttime laser and fireworks shows. The show started at 3pm and also featured Elvis Costello and the Attractions, A Flock of Seagulls and Robert Hazard and the Heroes.

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.

The stadium played host to The Monsters of Rock Festival Tour, featuring Van Halen, Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica and Kingdom Come, on June 11, 1988.

The stadium also played host to Amnesty International's Human Rights Now! Benefit Concert on September 19, 1988. The show was headlined by Sting and Peter Gabriel and also featured Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Tracy Chapman, Youssou N'Dour and Joan Baez.

It was not known at the time, but the stadium's last event was The Grateful Dead's concert on July 7, 1989, with Bruce Hornsby & The Range as their opening act. Fans at the show recall concrete crumbling 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] In 2010, the concert was released on CD/DVD, titled Crimson White & Indigo.

Closing and demolitionEdit

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" (Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia)). This was the show at which Rage Against the Machine did not play, in protest of the Parents Music Resource Center.[16]

The Wells Fargo Center now stands on the site, which is part of the complex that also includes 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. "Unique Game", West Virginia Mountaineers,, 2005-06-22. Retrieved on 2009-04-26. 
  5. FB City Title Recaps. Ted Sillary. Retrieved on 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 on 2009-04-24.
  7. Vecsey, George. "Sports of The Time; Americans Prepare for Lights, Cameras and Soccer", New York Times, 1988-04-10. Retrieved on 2009-04-24. 
  9. Led Zeppelin. Page 20 All Shows. Retrieved on 2009-07-26.
  10. Rockwell, Joan. "Frampton Back, Plays to 91,000; Philadelphia Show Is First Concert in 7 Months Million-Dollar Gross", New York Times, 1977-06-13, p. 36. Retrieved on 2009-07-10. 
  11. American Tour 1981. Rocks Off Setlists. Retrieved on 2009-04-28.
  12. John F. Kennedy Stadium; July 07, 1989; Philadelphia, PA US. Retrieved on 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 on 2008-09-17.  [dead link]

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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