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Asylum Arena is a former warehouse and current multi-purpose venue used primarily for wrestling and boxing events. It is located in South Philadelphia on the corner of South Swanson Street and West Ritner Street.
Freight warehouse (1970s-1980s)
The facility was originally a warehouse in the 1970s. Rail tracks next to the building allowed trains to drop off freight for storage and then continue on to their destinations. The tracks were eventually paved over to become an extension of West Ritner Street, allowing West Ritner Street to intersect with South Swanson Street.
Viking Hall (1980s-1993)
The warehouse was given the name Viking Hall in the 1980s after it was bought by the South Philadelphia Viking Club, a local chapter of mummers. They used the building for storage and to rehearse for the annual Mummers Parade. Through the mid 1990s, the Viking Club would also stage midnight bingo games at the venue to raise funds for their organization.
ECW Arena (1993-2001)
South Philadelphia fans were prominent in the rise of ECW from a local promotion to a national promotion. A dollar store was located next to the venue on South Swanson Street, allowing ECW fans to buy cookware and bakeware that they would hand to wrestlers during shows to be used as weapons.
ECW broadcast Barely Legal, their first live pay-per-view event from the venue in 1997. Immediately following this broadcast, a blown transistor caused the building to lose power. To this day, Barely Legal remains the only wrestling event to be broadcast live on television from the venue.
XPW Arena (2002-2003)
Following the demise of Extreme Championship Wrestling in 2001, many wrestling promotions ran shows at the venue. Controversy arose when Xtreme Pro Wrestling (XPW) signed an exclusive lease with the venue in late 2002, renaming the building XPW Arena and preventing other promotions from utilizing it. XPW went out of business in 2003, and the lease was voided.
Alhambra Arena (2004-2009)
The building's name was officially changed to New Alhambra Sports & Entertainment Center in 2004, and was later shortened to New Alhambra Arena in 2006 and Alhambra Arena in 2008. The name was suggested by J. Russell Peltz, who began co-promoting professional boxing cards at the venue with Joe Hand Promotions in 2004. It paid homage to the original Alhambra Movie Theater in South Philadelphia that hosted boxing in the 1950s and 1960s. In March 2005 the venue became home to Wrestle Factory, the wrestling school for Chikara.
Footage shot at the venue in February 2006 was used in the film Rocky Balboa .
New Jack was banned from the venue following an incident during a Pro Wrestling Xplosion show in September 2006 . He famously ordered Sprite at the venue's concession stand and was instead given 7 Up, prompting him to verbally harass the stand attendant.
Footage shot at the venue in February 2008 during a Combat Zone Wrestling show was used in the film The Wrestler .
The band New York Dolls played a concert at the venue on Valentine's Day in February 2008.
The Arena (2009-2010)
Joe Hand Promotions announced in January 2009 that after a five year partnership, it would stop promoting boxing cards at the venue. The venue was then renamed to The Arena by general manager Roger Artigiani.
Dragon Gate USA filmed their first pay-per-view event, Enter The Dragon at the venue in July 2009. Enter The Dragon was later voted Best Major Show of 2009 by the readers of Wrestling Observer Newsletter.
Matrix Fights drew a sell-out crowd with the venue's first major mixed martial arts card in February 2010, featuring Cole Konrad in the main event.
Asylum Arena (2010-present)
Roger Artigiani announced in October 2010 that mixed martial arts group Asylum Fight League had purchased the naming rights to the venue and renamed it Asylum Arena.
Musician Stan Bush played a concert at the venue in April 2011 as part of Chikara's annual King of Trios weekend.
In May 2011, New Japan Pro Wrestling concluded their first ever tour of the United States with an event at the venue.
Chikara broadcast Chikara High Noon, their first live internet pay-per-view event from the venue in November 2011.
Joanna Pang, the new lessee of the venue, plans to close and extensively renovate it beginning in February 2012.
On January 14, 2012, Evolve presented what could potentially be the venue's final professional wrestling event, A Tribute to the Arena.
Hardcore Hall of Fame
Banners and frames commemorating the careers of these wrestlers are on display within New Alhambra Arena:
- NewAlhambra.com - Official website of New Alhambra Arena