Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The 'New Coliseum'

I always thought it was a handsome building and an impressive sight as you flew into Charlotte-Douglas.


   If you're 50+ and have lived in Charlotte a long time you probably refer to the building below as the 'new Coliseum'. 'New' because the original Coliseum was on Independence Boulevard. 

   I saw Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, the Ringling Brothers Circus and the Charlotte Hornets here before it was imploded in 2007 to make way for mixed-use development. 

   Who did you see perform? Any graduations? Were you at the first Hornets game?


1988.




The Grateful Dead, June, 1991.



Frank Sinatra at the 'new Coliseum'. Undated, but probably from his August 19, 1988 concert.
The cheapest seats in the house were $17.50.



August, 1988 aerial view on day of opening celebration.



Planting trees for the controversial Maya Lin 'Topo' environmental sculpture. 
Originally known as 'The Playing Field' - 1991.



Ringling Bros. Circus elephants make their way to the Coliseum. 2001.



June 3, 2007 implosion. 



64 comments:

Chris' books said...

My dad and I were leaving a Hornets game when James K. Flynn blared over the PA system that Charlotte had just been awarded an NFL franchise.

Anonymous said...

I saw REM there when I was 13 or 14 maybe. That was a nice coliseum and a total shame that it was demolished. Such a waste of money.

Anonymous said...

I saw the first Hornets game, the Olympic team exhibition game the same day that the scoreboard fell and Mother Theresa.

Anonymous said...

I worked there from the day it opened until the day it closed. So many GREAT memories.

tarhoosier said...

First Hornets game: yes. Billy Joel, 1988 Olympic basketball team.

Exhibition National Hockey League game was scheduled but temporary ice making machinery failed and game was cancelled with customers in the Coliseum. Braves game in World Series was on TV at concession stands and when Hockey match cancelled concession workers turned off TV. Large group of fans protested and smarter police convinced staff to keep TV on for enough time for ticket holders to watch baseball as coliseum emptied.

Anonymous said...

I remember when hockey fans were turned away because the ice rink wasn't working. Near riot it was.

Anonymous said...

People need to stop saying that demolishing the coliseum was a waste of money. The coliseum was poorly researched during it's design phase and a waste of money when it was built. If people wanted to keep it around for concerns and the circus.. go ahead. As a NBA arena, Shinn was an idiot when he approved the plans. The coliseum arrived only one year before the Orlando arena and the Orlando place was loaded with luxury boxes and club seats and it lasted the city much longer. Shinn had no clue about the future of pro sports and accepted a coliseum design and concept that was 20 years behind it's time.

Linda A. said...

Yes, I was at the first concert that was held at the "New Coliseum", Luther Vandross. The traffic was horrendous getting there. I also attended many Hornets games, high school graduations, and the Ringling Brother's circus there. I actually cried when I heard the news that the city was going to demonish the building. Although, I have been to TWC Arena many times I do not enjoy it as much as I did the "New Coliseum".

Catawba Riverkeeper said...

One of my fondest memories, which really captures the 90s, was leaving a Hornets victory and someone from Coca-Cola handing out cans of Surge.

Anonymous said...

I was vey Fortunate to see Milli Vanilli LipSync at the Coliseum.

Jim Maloney said...

The "original" Coliseum, if you can call it that, was and is,to the best of my knowledge,what is now known as Bojangles Arena. The article refers to the Coliseum project that was built on West Tyvola Road far, far from Independence Blvd.and far, far away from the Uptown center of city life. I am apalled that the author or those proofing her article made no correction or mention of this discrepancy.

Anonymous said...

This is a blog, not an article. Read carefully, Jim.

Anonymous said...

How about the ACC Tournament when a snowstorm knocked out the power to the coliseum.

Anonymous said...

First country concert in the New Coliseum was George Straight and I was there! I think I was 16 years old. Next concert I locked my keys in the truck and in the process of looking for help I actually got turned around and lost my truck in the parking lot.

Anonymous said...

Saw the FIRST rock show that played there. AC/DC. Oh yea. White Lion opened.

Debbie said...

Kiss/Ted Nugent, Metallica/Godsmack, AC/DC, Diet Pepsi Tournament of Champions (VT vs UNC, VT vs USC), Scorpions/Great White

Anonymous said...

Love the "New Coliseum" there was not a bad seat in the house... That is why the Hornets was a city favorite...when you went to the games you could see the players, not having to watch them on TV\score board. Time Warner has the luxary boxes but the regular seats are horrible or too expensive.

Anonymous said...

It was a perfectly good coliseum that did not need to be destroyed. The fact that it wasn't uptown made it easier for traffic to flow and that area was booming economically during the time it was there. They're now building apartments on the same property, but that area has sort of gone downhill and Charlotte has expanded down south toward Ballantyne.

Anonymous said...

Saw Frank Sinatra, final four tournament, First Hornets Game, all star game.

Anonymous said...

Saw UNC/Duke ACC Final. The one where during the National Anthem they showed the soldiers coming home from the first Gulf War. A very powerful National Anthem that year. Then at that point UNC proceeded to blowout Duke. Hubert Davis was fouled, made the shot, very beginning of the game, you knew it was going to be one of those days.

Anonymous said...

Saw many Hornets games including the sweep of the Heat and some of the Milkwaukee series in 01. Saw Springsteens acoustic set in 05, and Limp Bizkit twice (awful I know)...I still miss the original Hive.

Anonymous said...

I will never forget - I saw my first Prince concert there! Outstanding show and the coliseum had GREAT seats on lower level as well as the nose bleeds! TWC has awful views in comparison. Ahhh, those were the days...

Anonymous said...

MC Hammer!

coasterwes said...

I saw one of the opening year Hornets games and I saw the one and only Milli Vanilli there.

Anonymous said...

If the NEW arena was designed properly and made ice, the Whalers/Hurricanes would have relocated to Charlotte.

Anonymous said...

wow, i saw a lot: first hornets win vs. the clippers, nba all-star game, ac/dc, grateful dead, springsteen several times, acc tournaments, barry white with earth, wind and fire, the circus (and the famous circus band), rush, fleetwood mac, sweet sixteen with UK, WF, FSU and WKU, diet pepsi when college of charleton beat unc, rem, u2, eric clapton, and the list goes on....

Anonymous said...

I think I saw Shania Twain there and Kiss/Ted Nugent, and a couple other performers I cant remember. And I saw UNC win in their first round game there in the NCAA tourney when they went on to win the National Championship in Mar/Apr 2005.

Anonymous said...

The Stones
U2
The Dead
Phish (x2)
REM (With Luscious Jackson)
The first & Last home Hornets games.

Saw it all, man.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:05 - i remember that too! we had a tailgate going behind the colesium at mcgee produce and it was a party!! loved the hornets games and gotta throw in when we hosted the final four and all the fun acc tournys!!

Anonymous said...

INXS
Bon Jovi
Phish

James Edgar said...

I have so much to say I'll use 2 posts...

I arrived in Charlotte from Ohio the night of 8/20/1988. I was enrolling at UNCC. I would later read that the Coliseum was originally designed as an attempt to get the ACC tournament to be held here permanently, and later George Shinn got the wild hair of trying to get an NBA team. Hornets first GM Carl Scheer would later say that when he walked into the brand-new Palace of Auburn Hills for the Hornets second game against the Pistons that "I knew we had made a mistake." He saw all the club seats and luxury boxes in the Palace and knew the Hornets would never make enough local money to compete against big-market teams for players. Shinn would say during the drama-filled second season that he might need to build a new arena near his new baseball park in Ft. Mill. Everyone demonized Shinn for saying so. Then the Hornets gave Larry Johnson that 12-year contract, even though Alonzo Mourning was our best player. Of course, Zo demanded an equal contract, which we couldn't afford, and he forced the trade to Miami for Jamal Mashburn. Then Shinn has an affair with a team employee. He is castigated by the holier-than-thou religious nut cases around here, as if Shinn was the first human in history to cheat on his spouse. Then, when it was simply no longer feasable to stay competitive in that arena, and he asked for $34 million of city money to build a new one on the old convention center site, the holier-than-thou religious nut cases stirred up the citizens to vote down the referendum - how DARE this heathenistic adulterer ask for public money! He's not going to move the team, he's just trying to blackmail us! Before you knew it, the team was called the New Orleans Hornets. The city had to fork over $265 million for a building for a new team. (That'll show that evil heathen Shinn, right?) To make matters worse, the new NBA commissioner says the 9-year-old "new" arena is already too outdated to get an All-Star game without tens of millions in upgrades. And the city still had to pay for all the other projects that were bundled with the arena in the 2001 referendum (Mint Museum, Gantt Center, etc.).

Hope you religious nut cases are proud of yourselves.

Thomas Cardwell said...

James, you stole my thunder.
Yes it was built for the ACC Tournament to maximize the number of seats for the ACC schools.

Anonymous said...

Great building and many great memories, and hands down would take it and its location over a smaller cramped never comfortable cable box downtown- er I mean UPTOWN.

Paul said...

Best memory there was seeing Zo hit the fadeaway jumper to beat the Celtics, and take the Hornets to the second round of the Playoffs for the first time.

Also remeber the NCAA Final Four when President Clinton came to town to see his Razorbacks.

It is also true that the Coliseum was built for ACC Basektball. When they started construction an NBA team wasn't even a twinkle in Shinn's eye.

The Sitelines at the old coliseum were far far worse than TWC Arena, even from the worst seats in the house. The atmosphere however, will never be matched in pro sports again.

Thomas Cardwell said...

This coliseum, the demolition, and property tax bill associated with it is half the 1-2 punch that made people flee Charlotte, the other being CMS.

James Edgar said...

OK, now on to my memories of the old building...

Remember the '88 draft, when we took Rex Chapman with the 8th pick and Miami took Ronny Siekaly with the 9th pick, and he said in his interview how nervous he was that Charlotte was going to pick him, and he didn't want to go to Charlotte, and was so glad he went to Miami? I was at that first-ever Hornets-Heat game, We booed Siekally every time he touched the ball. He went 2 of 10 from the field and 4 of 10 from the line. Late in the game, big, clumsy, lumbering Tim Kempton took a rebound, dribbled the length of the floor (including running over Siekally) for a dunk, giving birth to the legend of "Dr. K." We blew the heat out. I saw about a dozen Hornets games, and many more Charlotte 49ers gmaes (that was our home arena while I went to school there). I saw the first New Orleans Hornets-Charlotte Bobcats game there.

I saw a bunch of concerts - Cinderella (Bullet Boys & Winger opening), Heart (Black Crowes opening, had floor seats for that one), Boyz II Men, at least a couple others I'm having trouble remembering.

I loved James K. Flynn as the Hornets PA guy. Big Pat isn't anywhere near as good.

James said...

I attended the first game the Hornets won in 1988 over the LA Clippers

CHARLES OWEN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
CHARLES OWEN said...

Blogger CHARLES OWEN said...
We were there for the first Hornet's game and we still have those tickets here at the house. I continue to believe the destruction of this building along with the construction of the new arena downtown were the biggest waste of taxpayers dollars in the history of Charlotte. With overtime, some officers were being paid well over $46.00 an hour to direct people in and out of the new arena downtown. I know, because I was one of them. It allowed me to retire with an average salary of just under $94,000.00 a year during the last four years of my career. So in that regard, thank you Charlotte City Council for the wasting of our taxpayer's money.

Anonymous said...

I remember when the score board fell the day before Frank Sinatra was the opening act and took my then 13 year old daughter to that special night. And yes the tickets were $17.50 each.
Attended opening game, bulls playoff game and the 3 tenors concert and so much more.

Anonymous said...

Jordan dropping 48 on the Hornets in 1995 playoffs while wearing #45 jersey.

Anonymous said...

Saw Bonnie Raitt with guest appearance from Bruce Horsby; also saw the first Hornets games and many after that. Seeing MJ and Bird in person is a great memory. Those were great years to be in Charlotte.

Grayson Natural Farms said...

NBA All-Star weekend was fun! The guy with the sport coat dancing around the arena during time outs; Super Hugo - pretty cool. It was THE place to be.

Bobby Padgett said...

No to the first Hornets game, but did see a few more later.

No to graduations.

The concert I remember most was Jimmy Buffett, February 20, 2001. Dale Earnhardt had died that Sunday so it was with a heavy heart I attended the party I normally look forward to.

"During his sold out concert at the Charlotte Coliseum, Jimmy Buffett paid tribute to Dale Earnhardt. 'I know he had a great sense of humor and he would want us here raising hell tonight,' Jimmy told the Parrotheads. 'From all of us to all of you, heroes are hard to come by so we'll take number 3 around the track for Dale right now.' The concert was scheduled months ahead of time. But it was what the people of Charlotte needed most on a cold February evening. Jimmy dedicated the song 'Take Another Road' (with slightly altered lyrics) to the seven-time champion" while a video montage of Earnhardt rolled.
"'Never look back, that's what he swore
Take 'ol number three to the shore
Somewhere, somewhere...
Take another road to a hiding place
Disappear without a trace
Take another road to another time'
At the end of the night, Jimmy came back on stage for one last song-- 'Oysters and Pearls.' A song about those rare individuals willing to take huge risks for the ultimate glory. Indeed, a fitting tribute to The Intimidator. The last line 'Lindbergh left Long Island in 1927' was replaced with 'Earnhardt left Daytona... February 2001.' His final words to the Charlotte crowd were 'Goodnight everybody, God bless you. For you Dale.'"

I swear it was all I could do to keep from crying. If I liked Jimmy before, I loved him after that.

KCJonz said...

I was at The Dead show pictured and every other one there.

Anonymous said...

George Strait
Alan Jackson
Aerosmith
Jubliate (Gaither Hew Years Eve)

NBA Draft in 1997, the Hornets hosted, yet didn't have a pick in either round. Tim Duncan chosen that night by the Spurs.

Hornets - numerous games, Zo's shot of course, people forget how that game started, a dunk off of the opening tip, a steal on Boston's first possession and dunk, up only 4-0, and Chris Ford, the Celtics coach, burned a timeout since the crowd was going pure ape shit. Unreal.

Anonymous said...

That photo of the Grateful Dead is actually from March 23, 1995, when Bruce Hornsby sat in for the whole show on grand piano. You can see him on the far right.
I saw the Hornets, Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia Band, Eric Clapton, U2, Phish, the circus, arena football, probably more I ca't remember.

Anonymous said...

I stand corrected. Bruce did play with the Grateful Dead in June of 1991. They toured with two keyboardists right after Vince joined the band.

Anonymous said...

We can thank then-mayor Pat McCrory for blowing our tax dollars on the arena downtown. It was voted down by the citizens but he did it anyway. And the pricey living art "The Playing Field" was just bulldozed like any old shrubs. Now we have a landlocked arena where parking is a huge issue.

Anonymous said...

I was a charter season ticker holder for the Hornets. Section 207, Row A, Seats 3-4. Was allowed to choose my seats before purchasing the tickets. Drove from Charleston with a friend and rarely missed a home game for three years. Incredible atmosphere. Hugo the Hornet. Saw Jordan lose in his first appearance at the "Hive." George Shinn still deserves a lot of credit.

Anonymous said...

How about when the scoreboard fell? The local news did hour-long special reports about it. Reporters were standing on the basketball court, saying "It fell right here. It was up there, and now it is down here. We don't know when it will be back up there." The news is exactly the same, but this was a much smaller town back then.

William "Butch"Simmons said...

I have been reading comments about the Coliseum and some of the "mistakes" that were made. I would like to correct some some the comments and assumptions made. I was appointed to the Coliseum Committee of 100 by then City Council member Harvey Gantt. The committee was charged with the responsibility of determining whether a new facility was needed and if it was recommending a possible site. After reviewing a considerable amount of information including the loss of potential income at the Independence Boulevard location it was determined that a new facility was warranted. The committee also reviewed numerous locations and determined that the Tyvola Road location was the most appropriate. When all of this was happening there was no talk of an NBA franchise. Talk about an NBA franchise came after the decision had been made to construct a 25000 seat facility. Plans had already been set for the facility when the Charlotte franchise had been approved. At that time the plans were amended to allow the boxes thus reducing the original expected capacity. The fact the the City of Charlotte was going to build a new facility was used to sell the NBA on a franchise in Charlotte. The facility was not built exclusively for the NBA or ACC basketball. At least three down town locations were reviewed during the process. When Harvey Gantt became Mayor he had the committee go back to see if a downtown lactation was possible. Unfortunately several conditions were present then that we're not present when the arena moved from Tyvola Road to downtown Charlotte. I am proud of what was built on Tyvola Road. It served its purpose and more. I am extremely happy that the facility finally found its way downtown. Tyvola Road was good; Trade Street is better.
GO HORNETS!!!

Anonymous said...

Driving into that place through the "lane of cones" was a fond memory. Particularly if it was raining, what a task.

Anonymous said...

I worked there from the opening to the closing of the New Coliseum. It was the best place in Charlotte. My oldest child grow up out there watching basketball and all of the kids shows. TWA do not have any thing on the Coliseum. It is not as friendly as the Coliseum was. I hope it can one day get their.

Anonymous said...

I saw 2 Billy Joel concerts, many Hornets games, a great arena with good lower level seating.

George Moore said...

I saw Britney Spears. June 2003. Front row!! Now I look back and thought what the hell was I thinking?

Larry said...

If you go out there on a full moon night, you can see the lost tax money dollars rising from the ground and looking for a reason for having been spent there.

It is eerie, and sad, as they wail knowing what they could have become in so many other needy areas of Charlotte/Mecklenburg.

Curmudgeon said...

I never made it to New Coliseum. Never saw the inside or even the parking lot.

But I did have tickets for the last Frank Sinatra concert - he sang here on my birthday!

We were vacationing on the outer banks and as we started back that morning, the power steering hose blew and the closest replacement was in Charlotte.

That's the closest I ever got.

Janet B said...

I saw Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Jimmy Buffet. Attended the first Hornets game and many thereafter. The first Hornets team was so much fun - Tra-puka, Bogues Kempton, Dale, Curt (and others I'm forgetting). After Zo-who was a great player-I realized the league was priced over my head and I've never gone to a Bobcats game. Anyway - the "New Coliseum" was a great facility, a place for the regular person. It was a shame to see it go.

todd said...

My father built it as well as the old Coliseum & the Panther Stadium.

Anonymous said...


AC/DC
Eric Clapton(twice)
ZZ Top(twice)
Areosmith
Circus(twice)
Page/Plant
Black Crows

CMA1963 said...

The only concert I remember seeing there was Joan Jett/Aerosmith. It wa so different than seeing Rush or Aerosmith in the old Coliseum, which was much more cozy. I remember the '91 NCAA regionals and several ACC Tournament games there. However my best basketball memory was a December game where UNC played Kansas State. My parents were big Tarheel fans so I had gotten tickets for them as an early Chriatmas present. Our seats were in the upper level at mid-court. The tv camera pit was right in front of us and two large cameras blocked our view. A coliseum staff member observed our plight and summoned us to follow him. Little did I realize he was going to seat us at some empty seats at the press table on the floor. My Dad was so tickled......

Rick Cutchin said...

I have many fond memories in that building. I was a season ticket holder for the Hornets for the first 8 years, Sec 203 Row C Seat 9. Went to as many games as I could. Some of my favorite memories of the Hornets were 1) Zo's shot to beat the Celtic's, and watching Kevin McHale retire after the game right on the court. 2) Larry Johnson taking on Barkley one on one at the top of the key, cross over dribble and slam. 3) of course the first game. I also went to many other sporting events there. I was at the Hockey game that never happened, went to several tennis exibitions, one was Chris Everitt vs Martina, another had Jimmy Connors vs McEnroe. Went to the USA exhibition the day after the scoreboard fell. Went to one monster truck show as well. Several WWE wrestling shows too.

And went to a ton of concerts. AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Bruce, Metallica twice, Prince, Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Bush are some that come to mind.

All in all, I had a lot of great memories in that building.

Anonymous said...

Former Charlottean here. Mayor Harvey Gantt, one of the best mayors we ever had, advocated for a much larger building than was built on Tyvola. He told the council that to under-build would limit the life cycle of the Tyvola road coliseum and that it would have to be replaced within twenty years. It lasted 11. He also led the city council on a trip to Portland Oregon for the purpose of reviewing urban planning practices. The council members, Sue Myrick included, were very impressed with the urban growth boundary, MAX light rail and high density housing. Mayor Gantt, an architect by trade, urged the city council to implement many ideas pioneered by Portland. Because of the explosive growth in Mecklenburg county, he knew that not doing so would cause difficult to manage sprawl, increased infrastructure costs and a lower standard of living. The council unanimously rejected his ideas, claiming it was "Too expensive". I finally gave up on Charlotte and moved to Portland. The smartest move ever!