|Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum|
|Former names||Jacksonville Coliseum (1960-1968)|
|Opened||November 24, 1960|
|Closed||June 20, 2003|
|Demolished||June 26, 2003|
|Owner||City of Jacksonville|
|Construction cost||$3 million|
|Architect||George Ryad Fisher & A. Eugene Cellar|
Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum was an 11,000-seat multi-purpose arena, in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S. Built in 1960 and known as "northern Florida's most historic concert venues", it was home to most of the city's indoor professional sports teams and hosted various concerts, circuses and other events. It was demolished in 2003 and replaced with the Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena.
The Coliseum was dedicated November 24, 1960. The general contractor was Daniel Construction, and construction took two years and cost $3 million. The first event was the first ice hockey game ever played in Jacksonville, featuring the New York Rovers and Charlotte Clippers on November 30. The first events scheduled included an automobile show, a boat show, boxing matches, the circus, an ice skating show, a pro basketball exhibition game and a tennis tournament.
Ice hockey teams based in the Coliseum included the Jacksonville Rockets (1964–1972) of the Eastern Hockey League, the Jacksonville Barons (1973–74), the Jacksonville Bullets (1992–96), and the Jacksonville Lizard Kings (1995-2000). (Fans of the Lizard Kings referred to the coliseum as the "Reptilian Pavilion.") The American Basketball Association franchise known as The Floridians played some of its home games there in 1971 and 1972.
Jacksonville University utilized the coliseum for their home basketball games from 1969–99, and it hosted the 1981 Sun Belt Conference and 1999 and 2000 Atlantic Sun Conference men's basketball tournaments.
Hundreds of thousands of Duval County high school students received their diplomas after ceremonies in the Coliseum, and the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train stopped in Jacksonville for two weeks of shows every January for decades. The fairgrounds were adjacent to the Coliseum, and the Greater Jacksonville Agricultural Fair incorporated the facility into their November event, hosting music concerts, entertainers and exhibitions. Monster truck shows, tractor pulls and motocross events were also very popular over the years.
The Coliseum hosted hundreds of concerts and shows during its 43 year history, including Rush, Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Journey, AC/DC, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden.
By the 1990s, it became harder for promoters to fill the seats of the Coliseum. The venue was designed in the late 1950s before the advent of the rock concert, and strong bass and drums reverberated off the dome. The facility had not been renovated since its creation in the 1960s, giving the arena an outdated feel. It looked like a water treatment plant, according to Mayor John Delaney. Considered a mid-sized venue against its competitors, concert promoters for the most popular acts wanted venues with at least 15,000 seats; performers disliked the building's poor acoustics and the structure couldn't support the elaborate special effects lighting and sound equipment. The Eagles, Bon Jovi, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Matthews and Fleetwood Mac all declined to perform at the Coliseum, although the acts wished to perform in Jacksonville. The venue was still able to house exhibition shows, special events and several country acts including Alan Jackson, Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Wynonna Judd and the Dixie Chicks.
The Coliseum was imploded on June 26, 2003 and replaced with the $130 million Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena, under construction nearby. Extreme care was taken not to damage the black granite Veterans Memorial Wall located just eight feet from east wall of the building. After the debris was cleared, a 2-acre (8,100 m2) walking park was added to the area around the Memorial.
- "Demoiltion Dynamics & D.H. Griffin implode renowned entertainment venue" Implosion World Website, Blasts from the Past
- Foley, Bill: "Hope and hype greeted Coliseum in 1960" Florida Times-Union, June 22, 2003
- MacDonald, Dan: "Bring down the House" Florida Times-Union, June 22, 2003
- "Former JU athletic director Judson Harris dies" Florida Times-Union, May 31, 2010
- Frenette, Gene: "More lowlights than highlights" Florida Times-Union, June 22, 2003
- Palka, Mary Kelli: "Arena takes the stage from old Coliseum" Florida Times-Union, June 22, 2003
- "Coliseum acts: A who's who list" Florida times-Union, June 22, 2003
- Self, Bob: "Coliseum imploded" Florida Times-Union, June 26, 2003