By the time the Grateful Dead closed it with a July 7, 1989, concert, John F. Kennedy Stadium was pretty much a civic disgrace.

The 63-year-old brick oval on the site that now holds the Wachovia Center had become a dilapidated eyesore whose astonishing lack of amenities made it arguably the region's worst public facility.

But even disrepair and an antiquated infrastructure couldn't diminish the arena's fascinating history.

Opened as what we must assume was a state-of-the-art complex on April 15, 1926, as Sesquicentennial Stadium (named in honor of the Sesquicentennial Exposition for which it was erected), the 102,000-seat behemoth was renamed Municipal Stadium at the conclusion of what may be the most obscure World's Fair.

Renamed JFK Stadium in 1964, the facility hosted a number of watershed events that put it in the same league as the original Yankee Stadium and Soldier's Field in Chicago.

Sports logically played a large role in making its reputation.

In September 1926, a reported 120,557 people watched in a rainstorm as Gene Tunney defeated legendary heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey, a still-remembered title bout.

But football was its calling card.

The stadium hosted the annual Army-Navy Game from 1939 to 1980.

It was also the site of the short-lived (1959-'63) Liberty Bowl game, as well as the home of the Eagles (1936-'39) and the Philadelphia Bell of the World Football League, who played there during the 1974 season.

JFK Stadium also was for decades the site of the annual Hero Scholarship Thrill Show. During the mid-20th century, the annual exhibition of police motorcycle daredevilry and pageantry attracted tens of thousands of people, not to mention the crème de la crème of local celebrityhood.

But it was thanks to pop music that JFK Stadium enjoyed its most glamorous days (see cover story).

Its final 13 years were spent primarily as a concert venue.

By the late 1980s, Flyers owner Ed Snider had targeted the stadium site for a bigger, more modern successor to the Spectrum.

In the early '90s, Snider's Spectacor (which would later merge with Comcast) had begun the process that would lead to the surprisingly low-profile razing of JFK Stadium and the building of what was originally dubbed "Spectrum II" and which would open as the CoreStates Center in the summer of 1996.