Honorary imploders: Luzinski, Phillie Phanatic

PHILADELPHIA -- 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

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 2½ 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-foot elevation for a quarter-mile radius during the

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 cubic yards of
material. Contractors will be recycling debris on the site until
July, and the spot will eventually serve as a 5,500-space parking

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," 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.