Dee Stadium

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Dee Stadium in January 2012.

Dee Stadium, also called The Dee, is an ice hockey arena in Houghton, Michigan, that replaces, and is located on the same site as, the Amphidrome. It is regarded as the birthplace of professional hockey, and is the seventh oldest indoor ice rink in the world.[1]


Amphidrome Postcard.jpg
The 1907 addition can be prominently seen in this postcard (circa 1907-09). The rest of the stadium is off to the left.
Built 1902
Designated ~2006[2]
Amphidrome under construction

The Houghton Warehouse Company, operated by James R. Dee, built and owned the Amphidrome.[3] Construction of the Amphidrome finished in December 1902.[4]

The first hockey game was played on December 29, 1902, in which the Portage Lakes Hockey Club defeated the University of Toronto, 13-2.[3] The game was attended by over 5000 spectators.[4] For the 1903-04 season, the Portage Lakes became the first hockey team whose players were all paid.[2] James Dee and John "Doc" Gibson formed the International Hockey League later that year, in which the Portage Lakes competed.[2] These events marked the beginning of professional hockey.[2]

In 1907, an addition was constructed on the western end of the Amphidrome.[1] Styled like a castle, it was used as a community ballroom and armory.[1]


The Amphidrome burned down on January 9, 1927.[1] The fire was discovered at 3:45 a.m. in the upper floors of the 1907 addition.[1] The fire destroyed a nearby warehouse and the equipment of the Portage Lakes, the Michigan College of Mines hockey team, and the Houghton and Hancock high school sextets.[1] The fire cancelled the regional high school hockey season and forced other area teams to use the Calumet Colosseum in Calumet, Michigan.[1]

After the loss of the Amphidrome, the debris was cleared and a temporary outdoor rink was formed.[1] Before the next season, in 1928, a replacement stadium was constructed called the New Amphidrome.[5] James Dee assisted in financing the reconstruction.[5]

Dee Stadium[edit]


The Dee Stadium entrance displays some history of the building and site (January 2012).

The New Amphidrome was renamed the James R. "Dee" Ice Stadium in 1943 when the Michigan College of Mining and Technology (now Michigan Technological University) purchased it for their hockey team.[5] Michigan Tech played their last hockey game in the Dee Stadium on January 13, 1972, after which they moved to the Student Ice Arena.[6]

In 1974, the City of Houghton signed a 99-year lease for the Dee Stadium from Michigan Tech.[6] In May 1983, the City of Houghton eliminated Dee Stadium from their annual budget due to financial reasons and the recent vandalism at Dee Stadium.[7] The Copper Country Junior Hockey Association (CCJHA) was blamed for the vandalism. The City of Houghton told the Daily Mining Gazette that the young hockey players were the reason the Dee is falling apart and that the City is not at fault for the condition of the Dee.

With the City threatening to close Dee stadium, 468 adults and 423 students signed a petition to keep the Dee open for use. The Houghton High School Hockey coach at the time Don Miller said, "By having to move to either Houghton County Arena or the Student Ice Arena, a severe scheduling problem would arise…especially the Houghton High School Hockey Team." All kinds of community groups got involved with the Dee petition. The Houghton-Portage Teachers Education Association expressed their interest in the situation by stating, "the teachers feel strongly about Dee Stadium and the purpose that it serves. For the next five years, there were fundraising efforts to save Dee Stadium from being closed". These fundraisers also provided Dee Stadium with the proper improvements that it needed.[8] At each of these annual fund raising dinners, there were 200 tickets sold at $100 at ticket, which gained an $8,000 profit per year. The goal with this money was to put new siding on all four sides of the building and to put in new insulation to make the ballroom available for year-round use.[9]

In 1988, the City of Houghton purchased the Dee Stadium.[10]

Current use[edit]

Dee Stadium is the current home of the Houghton High School Hockey team and Portage Lake Pioneers Senior Hockey team.[11] It is a venue for Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival[12] and the annual Parade of Nations festival.[13]


Upstairs at the Dee Stadium was the Level II skatepark.[11] The park was originally built in 2000 and rebuilt in 2005.[citation needed] Besides having various ramps for skateboarding and biking they also had a stage for concerts.[14] The park was closed due to mismanagement.

The Dee Stadium houses a museum that showcases the history of the site and the history of ice hockey in the area.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Julien, Connie. "Local Ice Rinks in the Copper Country in Michigan's Western Upper Peninsula". Copper Country Hockey History. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d State of Michigan. "Birth Of Professional Hockey / The Amphidrome". Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  3. ^ a b State of Michigan. "The Amphidrome". Copper Country Hockey History. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  4. ^ a b The text, located on the entrance to the Dee (as of 2012), reads, "The construction of the Amphidrome was completed in December of 1902. The first game was played December 29th, 1902 with over 5000 people in attendance."
  5. ^ a b c Julien, Connie. "Copper Country Hockey History". Copper Country Hockey History. Retrieved 5 January 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Julien, Connie. "1970s". Copper Country Hockey History. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  7. ^ Goffin, Jim "City ready to write off Dee Stadium." Daily Mining Gazette,4/07/1983. CCVF: building- Amphidrome. MTU Archives & CCHC.
  8. ^ Goffin, Jim "Council Views petitions and letters urging continued use of Dee Stadium." Daily Mining Gazette, 4/23/1983. CCVF: building- Amphidrome. MTU Archives & CCHC.
  9. ^ Lajeunesse, Tom "Dee Stadium June 8." Daily Mining Gazette, 5/19/1984. CCVF: building- Amphidrome. MTU Archives & CCHC.
  10. ^ Julien, Connie. "1980s". Copper Country Hockey History. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Dee Stadium". City of Houghton. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "Events". Michigan Technological University. Retrieved 8 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Donovan, Jennifer (September 9, 2011). "Parade of Nations Brings a World of Food and Festivities to the Keweenaw". Michigan Technological University. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 
  14. ^ Chapin, Vienna (July 18, 2008). "Rockin’ the skatepark". The Daily Mining Gazette. Retrieved 6 January 2012. 

Coordinates: 47°7′22.46″N 88°33′53.91″W / 47.1229056°N 88.5649750°W / 47.1229056; -88.5649750

External Links[edit]