Ed Snider chairman of the boards - hockey and basketball boards, that is. Among other duties, the longtime head of Comcast-Spectacor oversees the Philadelphia Flyers and Sixers and their home arena. He's also paving the way for Philly Live!, a retail, dining and entertainment district in the South Philadelphia stadium complex. In this "Dishing With ..." segment, he talks about his celiac disease diagnosis, gluten-free concessions at the Wells Fargo Center, and what he kept from the recently razed Spectrum.
You famously brought the city’s most successful sports franchise, the Flyers, to Philadelphia in 1967. Were you a hockey fan before that?
Yes I was. I happened to see a few games and the pro game fascinated me. I saw one at Madison Square Garden - between the New York Rangers and the Montreal Canadiens - that really turned me into a fan. Years later, I found out that the National Hockey League was expanding and I wanted to bring a franchise to Philadelphia.
How long before your 2003 celiac diagnosis had you suffered from digestive problems? Were you misdiagnosed with something else?
50 years. I was told from the time I was in my early 20s that I had a spastic colon. When it got really bad, they’d throw some pills at me. They never worked. I didn’t have it as bad as some people have it so I could live with it.
I was diagnosed in 2003 at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital. I had a colonscopy. Dr. [David] Katzka [now at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota] decided to do an endoscopic exam and found that I had it.
How did you become involved in the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness?
A niece of mine is married to a guy who worked next to [NFCA founder] Alice Bast and knew about her and made the introduction. She came to see me and she wanted to start it and I wanted to help her start it.
What kind of feedback have you received about the gluten-free concessions at the Wells Fargo Center? Are there any plans to expand the offerings?
I've gotten some notes that people were very happy that it’s there. If Aramark feels that there’s more demand and they need to expand the line or open up another stand, then they’ll do it. I think it all depends on demand.
Were you surprised that the Sixers improved so dramatically in just one season?
I’m certainly very pleased. I think Doug Collins did a phenomenal job. I personally think he should have been coach of the year. He certainly got us to where we thought we should be.
Will you miss anything about the Spectrum?
At the point it was torn down, the building was just bricks and mortar - we weren't doing events there any longer. We had a big sendoff, we had parties, we had great concerts to end the building’s life, so to speak. But all of those events are now here in the new building that’s been open now for, believe it or not, 16 years - that’s hard to believe. We’ve had plenty of time to deal with the Spectrum coming down. I’m excited about what’s going up in its place. But more important, it’s not bricks and mortar that you really concern yourself with. I have the memories of all the things that happened at the Spectrum and I'll always have those.
Have you saved any mementos from the building?
A lot of pictures of things that happened at the Spectrum. Many, many pictures, and that’s good enough for me.