Greensboro Coliseum Complex

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Greensboro Coliseum Complex
200

Greensboro Coliseum.jpg
Entrance to Coliseum
Location 1921 West Lee Street
Greensboro, North Carolina 27403 USA
Coordinates 36°3′35″N 79°49′32″W / 36.05972°N 79.82556°W / 36.05972; -79.82556Coordinates: 36°3′35″N 79°49′32″W / 36.05972°N 79.82556°W / 36.05972; -79.82556
Owner City of Greensboro
Operator City of Greensboro
Capacity Varies depending on venue
Construction
Broke ground January 1958
Built 1959
Opened October 29, 1959
Renovated 1994, 2005, 2013
Expanded 1972, 1993, 2003, 2011
Construction cost US$4.5 million (1959)
($36.4 million in 2014 dollars[1])
$63 million (1993 Expansion)
Architect FABRAP
Website
www.greensborocoliseum.com

The Greensboro Coliseum Complex is an entertainment and sports complex located in Glenwood neighborhood of Greensboro, North Carolina, in the United States. Opening in 1959, the arena was once one of the largest venues in the South, with a seating capacity of over 23,000. The complex holds nine venues that includes an amphitheater, arena, aquatic center, banquet hall, convention center, museum, performing arts center, theatre and an indoor pavilion. It is the home of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's "Spartans" men's basketball team, as well as the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) with their Men's and Women's Basketball Tournament.

It has hosted the Men's ACC Tournament 23 times since 1967 and the Women's ACC Tournament 12 times since 2000. The coliseum is contracted to host both tournaments until 2015. Other notable sporting events include the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men's "Final Four" in 1974 and the East Regionals in 1976, 1979 and 1998. It is also the former home of several professional hockey teams including the Greensboro Generals, Greensboro Monarchs of the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and the National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes.

The complex has hosted the "Central Carolina Fair" since 1999.

History[edit]

Aerial view of complex showing the coliseum, exhibition hall, performing arts center and theatre (2007).

The complex was first proposed in 1944 by the city's mayor. The idea was to create a war memorial to honor veterans of World War I and World War II. The building was approved by city officials in 1956, followed by a groundbreaking in January 1958. With its opening in 1959, the complex held four venues: War Memorial Auditorium, Town Hall Auditorium, The Blue Room and the Greensboro Coliseum.[2] The complex opened on October 29, 1959 for historic show, "Holiday on Ice". Shortly after its opening, the coliseum began to scout for a hockey team. Partnering with the EHL, the city formed the "Greensboro Generals". The team's first match was November 11, 1959 against the Washington Presidents. The Generals won the game 4–1. The Generals would go on the win the EHL Championships.[2]

Over the years, the complex hosted several conventions, sporting and musical events. The coliseum was part-time home of the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association from 1969-1974 after the Houston Mavericks moved to North Carolina in 1969. The Cougars were a "regional franchise," playing "home" games in Charlotte (Bojangles' Coliseum), Greensboro (Greensboro Coliseum), Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum and Raleigh (Dorton Arena). Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown began his coaching career with the Cougars in 1972. Billy Cunningham was the ABA MVP for the Cougars in the 1972-73 season. Despite a strong fan base the Cougars were sold and moved to St. Louis in 1974.[3]

To meet demands, the coliseum expands its seating to 15,000 in 1972. Six years later, the complex expanded to include an exhibition center, known at the time as the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Exhibition Building (shortened to Exhibition Building). The building's first event was "Super Flea", a flea market for the Triad area. In 1991, the coliseum's manager (Jim Evans) proposed an additional expansion of the complex. This expansion would raise the seating capacity of the coliseum an additional 8,000 (adding a third tier) to 23,000. It would also see The Blue Room demolished to make way for a small arena in the Exhibition Hall (now called the Special Events Center).[4]

The venue reopened in December 28, 1993 for the "Reunion Classic, a men's basketball game against the UCLA Bruins and NC State Wolfpack.[5] This game was met with controversy as the coliseum was not fully complete at the time of the game. City officials paid $200,000 to have firefighters on stand by during the game. The coliseum and the newly expanded exhibition hall did not meet state and city building codes nor fire regulations, because of incomplete construction.[6] Additionally, the coliseum did not hold the permits to host the event. This irrational decision resulted in city council firing both the coliseum manager and its contractors, Huber, Hunt and Nichols, Inc. (known for the Time Warner Cable Arena, BB&T Center (Sunrise) and the Consol Energy Center).[6] It was later determined it would take an additional ten months to have the complex comply with regulations. The city added in additional $20 million to the budget to renovate the coliseum and the auditorium.[7]

Additional expansions came in 2003 when the complex added the 30,000 sqft Pavilion (also called the GCC Pavilion). Two years later, the complex would renovated the old Town Hall Auditorium into the smaller Odeon Theatre. In 2011, the complex added three additional venues: the White Oak Amphitheatre, the Greensboro Aquatic Center and the ACC Hall of Champions. Since its opening, the complex has been visited by nearly 57 million people and hosts over 800 events per year.

Facilities[edit]

Seating Capacity[8]
Greensboro Coliseum 23,500
War Memorial Auditorium 2,460
East Wing (S.E.C.) 5,100
Odeon Theatre 302
White Oak Amphitheatre 7,688
Greensboro Aquatic Center 2,500
The Terrace 800

Greensboro Coliseum[edit]

One of the original four buildings of the complex, the Coliseum (also called Coliseum Arena) is one of the oldest buildings on the property. Construction began on the venue in 1958 and was completed in September 1959. Known originally as the Greensboro Memorial Coliseum (until 1980), the arena hosted its first event on October 29, 1959. At the time, the coliseum held 7,100 seats, becoming one of the largest arenas on the East Coast.[9] Less than one year after its opening, the coliseum was about to be visited by presidential nominee Richard Nixon. Nixon obtained a knee injury while campaigning in Greensboro, causing him to stop his campaign tour. Although the tour continued in late August 1960, Nixon still suffered pain from the injury. In September, the first debate between John F. Kennedy and Nixon aired on television, with Nixon appearing to look "sickly". Nixon lost the debate and would go on to lose the presidential race. Nixon later stated the knee injury at the coliseum resulted in him losing the race.

Through the years, the coliseum has hosted several sporting events, most notably basketball (see below). The coliseum has also hosted concerts for over 40 years. During the 1960s and 1970s, the coliseum was frequented by rock and R&B performers. The first major concert held at the coliseum was by The Monkees. Elvis Presley played a concert at the coliseum on April 14, 1972, the footage was used for his final film, entitled Elvis on Tour and an audio album, entitled Elvis Presley – The Greensboro Concert 1972. Presley performed the coliseum again on April 21, 1977, one of the final venues of his tour, before his death on August 16. Casting Crowns recorded their live album, entitled Until the Whole World Hears... Live, at the coliseum on April 24, 2010.

The arena has also hosted WJMH '​s SuperJam since 1997. The music festival has featured prominent artists in the hip hop community including LL Cool J, Soulja Boy, Ludacris, Ja Rule, Plies, Nas, Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz, Travis Porter and the Ying Yang Twins.

The coliseum was also the site of auditions for American Idol Season 5 on October 3, 2005 and Between Sunday July 8 and Tuesday July 10 of 2012, it played host to the Greensboro audition stages in the second season of the Fox singer search programme The X Factor.

War Memorial Auditorium[edit]

One of the original four buildings of the complex, the War Memorial Auditorium is one of the oldest buildings on the property. Along with the original concept, the venue opened in 1959 to house performing arts events. Playing predominately to an African American audience, the auditorium became a notable venue on the chitlin' circuit. James Brown, Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin were among the many performers who played the auditorium during the 1960s. Its first popular concert was by The Rolling Stones during their 1965 North American Tour on November 12, 1965. Over the years, the venue has been primarily used for town meetings, theatrical events, religious meetings and concerts. 2008 presidential candidate Barack Obama held a town hall meeting on March 26, 2008 to a full house. Guilford County native Fantasia Barrino gave her first concert, in her home state, during her Back to Me Tour on November 18, 2010.[citation needed]

The auditorium is being torn down in October 2014; a premium parking lot planned on the site will subsidize the Stephen Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, to open downtown as a replacement facility in 2017.[10][11] A closing ceremony took place September 4. An O'Jays concert September 5 was the last event, and items from the auditorium were auctioned off the next week..[12][13]

Greensboro Coliseum Special Events Center[edit]

Originally known as the Greensboro Coliseum Complex Exhibition Building, the exhibition center opened in 1978. Its purpose was to host business conferences and conventions. The venue was primarily used by "Super Flea", the flea market for the Triad area. In 1993, the center was expanded, converting the old Blue Room into a mid-sized arena known as Hall C or the East Wing. In its current state, the center has three exhibition halls, an arena and nine meeting rooms.[14] The arena is often used for musical performances during the Central Carolina Fair. It is also utilized by Greensboro College men's and women's basketball home games. Other sporting events such as boxing, and UFC matches. The arena will often host concerts and comedy shows.

Odeon Theatre[edit]

Opening in 1958 as the Town Hall Auditorium, the Odeon Theatre is a small venue primarily used for community events. The original auditorium housed 1,000 seats. In 2004, the auditorium was converted to the smaller theatre and reopened in March 2005.

White Oak Amphitheatre[edit]

The newest contribution to the complex, the White Oak Amphitheatre is the first outdoor venue for the Triad area. The venue was originally proposed in 2007 along with the aquatic center. The city purchased the nearby Canada Dry bottling plant to allow space for the amphitheatre. Construction began in 2010 and was completed in June 2011.[15] The first concert for the venue was by the The Beach Boys on June 5, 2011 to a crowd of 4,000 spectators.[16] The amphitheatre is expected to operate from April to October, hosting community, comedy and musical events. The project cost $946,000 to construct.

Pavilion[edit]

Known simply by one name (although acknowledged as Greensboro Coliseum Pavilion or Pavilion at the Coliseum), the Pavilion is a standalone exhibition hall adjacent to the Special Events Center. The 30,000 sq ft space is used monthly by the Super Flea Market. It also is used frequently by Guilford County Schools and the Central Carolina Fair. The pavilion opened in March 2003. The project was designed by Sutton-Kennerly Associates and cost $625,606.

Greensboro Aquatic Center[edit]

Another expansion project for the complex is the new aquatic center. The center will feature three main pools including a warm-up and training pool. The main pool will be used for events by nearby high schools and colleges and can hold eight 50-meter lanes. The facility will also have a classroom and a 24'×19' video screen.[17] The venue will house events in competitive swimming and diving, synchronized swimming and water polo. The project began in 2010 along with the amphitheatre and cost $18.8 million to build.[18] The City of Greensboro provided a live cam feed to watch the progress of the construction. The venue is expected to open in August 2011. The venue will host the 2012 U.S. Masters Swimming Spring National Championship.[19][dated info]

ACC Hall of Champions[edit]

To commemorate its legacy with the ACC Tournaments, the complex opened a museum in 2011 to show the history of the ACC. The venue will celebrate the past, present and future of the ACC. It features numerous exhibits including an interactive broadcast booth, memorabilia, a video globe and school mascots. The venue opened in March 2011.[20]

The Terrace[edit]

Opened in March 2011, The Terrace is one of new expansions for the complex. Its main purpose is a banquet hall and will be used for speaking events as well as weddings. The Terrace is an indoor venue located in between the auditorium and Coliseum.[20]

Sports[edit]

Tenants
Spring National Championship USMS 2012
UNC Greensboro SoCon 2009–Present
Greensboro Revolution NIFL 2006–2008
Greensboro Prowlers AF2 2000–2003
Atlantic Coast Conference Women 2000–Present
Greensboro Generals ECHL 1999–2004
Carolina Hurricanes NHL 1997–1999
Carolina Monarchs AHL 1995–1997
Greensboro City Gators GBA 1991–1992
Greensboro Monarchs ECHL 1989–1995
NCAA Final Four NCAA 1974
Carolina Cougars ABA 1969–1974
Atlantic Coast Conference Men 1967–Present
Wake Forest Demon Deacons ACC 1959–1989
Greensboro Generals EHL / SHL 1959–1973

Hockey[edit]

The hockey history of Greensboro began in 1959, when the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League arrived and competed until the league folded in 1973. The team moved to the Southern Hockey League for four seasons until it too ceased operations in January 1977. Greensboro hockey's modern era began with the establishment of the Greensboro Monarchs of the East Coast Hockey League, who played from 1989–90 to 1994–95. When the American Hockey League expanded southward in 1995, it invited Greensboro to join; the new team took the Monarchs nickname, but attempted to draw a more regional fan base by labeling themselves the Carolina Monarchs. When the Carolina Hurricanes announced their move from Hartford, Connecticut in 1997 (when they were known as the Hartford Whalers), they leased the coliseum for two years while waiting for the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina to be completed.[21] Subjected to ticket price increases and unwilling to support a team that was destined for Raleigh, Greensboro hockey fans rarely filled the arena for Hurricane games. Meanwhile, Triangle fans were unwilling to make the hour-long drive across Interstate 40 to Greensboro. As a result, the Hurricanes played in front of some of the smallest NHL crowds since the 1950s. During the 1998–99 season, the team curtained off most of the upper deck for home games in an effort to artificially create scarcity in the ticket market, force would-be attendees to purchase higher-priced tickets, and hide what national media mocked as "green acres" of empty seats.[22]

Once the Raleigh Entertainment and Sports Arena (later the RBC Center, now the PNC Arena) was completed and the Hurricanes moved out, the plan was that the Monarchs, who spent those two years in New Haven, Connecticut as the Beast of New Haven, would move back into the venue as a Hurricanes affiliate. However, Monarchs owner Bill Black tried to bring the Monarchs back to Greensboro but the Hurricanes refused to claim the Monarchs as their affiliate. After the deal fell by the wayside Bill Black tried to sell shares to the public in a final attempt to bring the Monarchs back to Greensboro. Unable to regain enough interest the team was sold and became the Manchester Monarchs.

Rather than leave the coliseum without a hockey team for the first time in more than 10 years, a new hockey team was founded, the Greensboro Generals, returning the city to the East Coast Hockey League. The Generals competed in the arena until 2004, when they were terminated by the ECHL due to poor performance and lackluster support from the community.[23] Increased operating expenses from the ECHL Players Union and overhead costs as a result of recent coliseum renovations significantly affected the Generals' ability to promote within the community. It was revealed that after the team folded, nearly all of the money used to support the team over and above ticket revenues, could have been covered by coliseum advertising revenue that was purchased as a direct result of the hockey team's presence. After the team folded, the complex saw a significant revenue drop in local advertising and to this day, the coliseum operations must be supplemented with nearly $2 million a year from the city government.

Basketball[edit]

The Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association played a majority of their home games at the Greensboro Coliseum during their tenure in North Carolina from 1969 to 1974, before moving to St. Louis and becoming the Spirits of St. Louis. The Greensboro City Gaters played their first and only season as a charter franchise of the Global Basketball Association minor league in 1991–1992 in the Greensboro Coliseum.

The Greensboro Coliseum has played host to many college basketball tournaments. The Atlantic Coast Conference has held their men's basketball tournament at the coliseum 23 times since 1967, the most of any venue.[24] This is in part because the arena was within seven hours' drive of the conference's original footprint, and is within an hour of most of the fanbases of the conference's heartland in North Carolina. The coliseum hosted the 2010 and 2011 men's tournament, and is scheduled to host four more ACC men's tournaments in 2013, 2014, & 2015.[25] It has also hosted the MEAC Men's Basketball Tournament ten times.

In 1974 the coliseum hosted the NCAA Men's Final Four. It was the host of the Southern Conference men's basketball tournament from 1996–1999. The coliseum has been the home for the ACC Women's Basketball Tournament since 2000, and is contracted through 2015. It has played host to 12 Men's NCAA Tournaments, most notably the 1974 Final Four and Lehigh's upset of Duke in 2012. It hosted the NCAA Tournament in 2006 and 2009, when it served as a first and second round site. It hosted the Greensboro Regional in the Women's NCAA Tournament in 2007 and 2008. The coliseum is the first arena to host three basketball tournaments in consecutive weeks. The coliseum has also hosted NBA basketball, high school basketball, and the Harlem Globetrotters.

From 1959 to 1989, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons basketball team played a portion of its home schedule there—usually games against popular opponents that could not be accommodated in the smaller Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum. The arena has also served as an alternate home floor for the UNC Greensboro Spartans men's basketball team, such as on December 31, 2005, when UNCG hosted top-ranked Duke at the Greensboro Coliseum in front of a near-record crowd of 21,124. Beginning with the 2009–2010 season, UNCG men's basketball team moved all its home games there from the cramped Fleming Gymnasium on campus, which had been its home court since 1989.[26][27]

Indoor football[edit]

The coliseum first saw an Arena Football team when the Greensboro Prowlers of the af2 league played in the coliseum from 1999 until 2004. The team folded due to a poor record and lack of fan support. The Greensboro Revolution of the National Indoor Football League played here in 2006 and 2007. The team ceased operations on January 23, 2008.

Events[edit]

Other events[edit]

The Coliseum has hosted many events over time, including Monster Jam, Arenacross, the PBR, High School Musical: The Concert, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and large-scale religious gatherings. It's also located between and within an hour's drive of North Carolina's five largest cities: Charlotte, Raleigh, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Durham.

In addition, its neighboring auditorium and special events center have hosted concerts, trade shows, broadway theatre shows, and similar events. The auditorium, which was not included in the 1993 renovation of the complex, will soon be renovated to include a banquet hall. In 2002, the 1st Annual King of the Concrete indoor go-kart race was held at this facility.

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Preceded by
Hartford Civic Center
Home of the
Carolina Hurricanes

1997–1999
Succeeded by
Raleigh Entertainment & Sports Arena