The original War Memorial Complex in
Greensboro after completion in 1959.
The interior of the Greensboro Coliseum
as it looked after it was first built in 1959, before the expansion
that added an upper deck in 1972.
Imagine a wrestling ring in the center
of this photo instead of all that ice!
(Photo submitted by Christopher Curry)
If you have photos of the Coliseum as
it looked during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, please share them with us or
point us in the right direction. Thanks!
Greensboro Coliseum History
by Jim Schlosser
When local boosters boast that the ACC Men's
Tournament has been played at the Greensboro Coliseum more than
anywhere else, they're right. But! Which coliseum do they mean?
There have been three, all in the same spot, but each with a
different personality and look. The first time the ACC came here in
1967, it was played in the original coliseum. It opened in 1959,
with a Quonset hut style roof and a seating capacity of about 9,000.
To find out what it was like to play in the building, seek out a
dinosaur who played there in '67 - former UNC star Dick Grubar, now
a Greensboro real estate broker. He'll be hanging around the Carolina
bench during this week's ACC tournament at the new, new coliseum.
few years after Greensboro's initial ACC, to keep the event coming
back, the city raised the coliseum's roof, adding a second deck and
a flat roof. That doubled capacity to about 16,000. The city also
added an exhibition hall that provided space for ACC entertainment.
The jump in coliseum seats caused Charlotte's original coliseum,
which had opened in the 1950s with about 11,000 seats, to become
But it was 1987 before Charlotte built a new coliseum on a different
site and with a capacity of nearly 23,000.
threatened. After an emotional political campaign, voters in the
late 1980s approved raising the roof of the coliseum again and the
seating capacity to 23,000. The old exhibition hall was torn down,
replaced by the Special Events Center, which provided more and nicer
space for tournament dinners and entertainment. Later, the Pavilion
was added in the parking lot for FanFest, where spectators and
children can go between games to have fun.
made Charlotte's new coliseum obsolete. It had capacity but poor
sight lines compared to Greensboro's building. It also lacked
auxiliary structures for entertainment. The coliseum staff erected
large tents in the parking lot. When the wind blew, the tents shook.
Finally, Charlotte decided the new coliseum had to go, not just to
lure the ACC tournament but to please the NBA, whose team the
Hornets had fled Charlotte partly out of disgust with the coliseum.
The city got a new franchise, the Bobcats after promising to build a
new arena. The new new Charlotte Coliseum is downtown and built to
NBA specifications, which calls for a slightly smaller arenas. The
Charlotte building seats 18,000 to 19,000, but has loads of luxury
boxes where big money people can watch the games in privacy, drink
and eat catered food. Charlotte wisely built auxiliary buildings to
accommodate the needs of the ACC.
The tournament returns to the
Queen City in 2009. Meanwhile, the second Charlotte Coliseum is
scheduled for demolition only 18 years after opening. Greensboro
probably won't have to make more changes anytime soon. The complex
looks up to date with everything the ACC needs. The are no bad seats
among the 23,000. Those with seats in the last row of the upper deck
are closer to the floor than those in the last row in the second
deck of the Charlotte Coliseum. For building archaeologists to see
something that remains of the orginal 1959 building, a press pass
will be needed during this week's ACC Men's Tournament. Portions of
the narrow concourse left from the original building run below the
first level of seats. Only reporters, players, cheerleaders and
arriving pep bands use it. Part of the old concourse has been been
turned into a press room.
Meanwhile, in Charlotte, the 1950s old,
old coliseum survives and thrives as Cricket Arena, formerly known
as Independence Arena. Shows and sports events are held there. The
building was the sight of the 1999 Women's ACC Tournament, which
moved to the Greensboro Coliseum the next year and has been here
Posted by Jim Schlosser at March 8, 2006
The Greensboro Coliseum complex today.
Main Coliseum entrance today.
"Classic Venues" is a
collection of features edited by Dick Bourne
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