José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum

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José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum
Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot
The Choliseo
Coliseo de PR logo.jpg
Logo of the Coliseum of Puerto Rico
Coliseum of PR.JPG
Front entrance (North) of the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum
Full name José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum of Puerto Rico
Location 500 Arterial B St., Hato Rey
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00918
Coordinates 18°25′39.78″N 66°3′41.01″W / 18.4277167°N 66.0613917°W / 18.4277167; -66.0613917Coordinates: 18°25′39.78″N 66°3′41.01″W / 18.4277167°N 66.0613917°W / 18.4277167; -66.0613917
Public transit Hato Rey Station, Tren Urbano
Owner Puerto Rico Convention Center District Authority
Operator SMG[1]
Type Arena
Genre(s) Music, concerts, sporting events
Seating type Reserved seating
Executive suites 2 Party Suites
26 Corporate Suites
Capacity Can be configured in:
 • Minimum 2,416 (General attendance)
 • Maximum 7,367 (Theater events)
 • Maximum 15,635 (Ice rink events)
 • Maximum 15,694 (End stage)
 • Maximum 17,024 (Basketball events)
 • Maximum 18,163 (Boxing and wrestling events)
 • Maximum 18,500 (Center stage/Arena stage)
Record attendance  • 17,286 – Metallica: World Magnetic Tour (March 14, 2010)
 • 16,691 – Bruno Mars: The Moonshine Jungle Tour (September 1, 2013)
Field shape Oval rectangular
Surface Concrete
Scoreboard 4 sided LED
Construction
Broke ground 1998 (1998)
Built July 1998–2004
Opened 4 September 2004 (2004-09-04)
Construction cost $252.6 Million
Architect Sierra Cardona Ferrer & HOK Architects
Project manager Government of Puerto Rico
Structural engineer QB Construction
Tenants
Cangrejeros de Santurce (BSN) 2004–2011
Puerto Rico Tip-Off 2007–2011
Website
Coliseo de Puerto Rico.com
Ticketpop.com

The José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum of Puerto Rico (Spanish: Coliseo de Puerto Rico José Miguel Agrelot) is the biggest indoor arena in Puerto Rico dedicated to entertainment. It is located at the Golden Mile of San Juan, the island capital. It is usually referred by Puerto Ricans as the Choliseo, which is a portmanteau of the words "Coliseo" and "Cholito", in reference to Don Cholito, one of José Miguel Agrelot's characters and Agrelot's own adopted nickname.

The coliseum opened its doors to the public in September 4, 2004 after a prolonged construction financed by the Government of Puerto Rico. This venue is owned by the Puerto Rico Convention District Authority, a public corporation of Puerto Rico, and managed by SMG.[1][2] It can accommodate up to 18,500 spectators and can be reached by the Hato Rey Station of the Tren Urbano system.

The arena hosted the first WWE pay-per-view event outside the continental United States, Canada and the United Kingdom when New Year's Revolution was held there in 2005. On May 26, 2011, the arena was ranked 8th on the Top 50 Arena Venues of the world and second of the West Hemisphere in worldwide ticket sales by Pollstar Magazine. As of May 2013, the arena has received over 5 million spectators, hosting more than 600 events with a gross ticket revenue around $200 million.

On September 4, 2014, the Choliseo celebrated its tenth anniversary, including a milestone of over 880 events held since its grand opening.[3]

History[edit]

Original plans[edit]

Aerial view of the José Miguel Agrelot Coliseum after construction.

The Coliseum was a project started during the administration of Governor Rafael Hernández Colón, initially as part of an Olympic bid to host the 2004 Olympic Games.[citation needed] The facility was supposed to be constructed between the Roberto Clemente Coliseum and Hiram Bithorn Stadium, about a mile and a half away from the current arena site. The Coliseum would have been used for events such as Gymnastics and Olympic Basketball had the games been held in San Juan.

Controversy[edit]

In 1997, however, Athens was selected to host the games, and the construction of the Coliseum was jeopardized. Recognizing the need for such a facility anyway, the government decided to continue the construction, this time at a site physically close to San Juan's financial district, the Golden Mile. Since the new site was adjacent to a future Tren Urbano station, the Coliseum's planners decided not to incorporate parking facilities to the arena, as to induce visitors to use mass transportation to reach it.[citation needed]

Political opponents of Pedro Rosselló's administration raised various objections to the original plan, claiming that the lot of land purchased for the construction would benefit some of his political party's (PNP) heaviest financial contributors. They also objected to the lack of parking space, claiming that nearby private parking operators, sopposedly also money donors to Rosselló's party, would extort high parking fees from people who could not or would not use public transportation to the venue. At the time, the Tren Urbano was in its initial stages of construction; by the time the facility opened it was still under construction. Objectors would also point out that a private operator would take control of the facility under contract from the government of Puerto Rico under what was perceived as a highly expensive contract. The Rosselló administration countered by stating that previous experience with public sports facilities in Puerto Rico, which would quickly fall into disrepair at an accelerated rate requiring constant remodeling, demanded that a private entity should manage the facility. The contract's expense would be justified by bringing in an operating partner with international experience managing world-class facilities, whose reputation would ensure that performers and sport events that had never been staged in Puerto Rico could visit the island.[citation needed]

The Coliseum's construction was stopped for close to two years during the administration of governor Sila María Calderón, the leader of the opposition party (PPD) whose administration followed Rosselló's. She claimed that the Puerto Rican government had spent $242 million for a facility where only 42% of its scheduled project plan had been completed when she took office. The planners and constructors had overlooked the fact that a water pumping station next to the facility had been built over unstable land, and a portion of the building's foundations would have had to be redone because of this. There was even talk of demolishing what had been built and starting from scratch, which infuriated Rosselló supporters, who dismissed the suggestion as merely an excuse to spend more government money, this time to benefit the PPD's financial backers. Plans for a redesigned interior added during the Calderón administration added fuel to the intense public controversy.[citation needed]

Yet another controversy came about when the ticketing distributor was named. An exclusive contract was awarded to Banco Popular's Ticketpop, almost ignoring the bid by competitor TicketCenter. The situation almost went to trial, as both parties argued over who should sell the tickets for the events, but the Puerto Rican government stood by their original contract with Ticketpop. Local producer Angelo Medina spearheaded a group that wanted the legislature to curb the managing powers of SMG, recently named to oversee operations and activities, because they feared that the company's relationship with non-local television companies would limit the participation of local talent in the arena.[citation needed]

The Coliseum was finally inaugurated on September 4 2004, several years into its construction and millions of dollars over budget.

Dedication[edit]

José Miguel Agrelot as his character Don Cholito

The naming of the structure caused a controversy by itself. During the construction phase, plans called for the coliseum to be named simply El Coliseo de Puerto Rico (The Coliseum of Puerto Rico), but when it was also suggested that a private entity could sponsor the facility and thereby lend its name to it, most local politicians objected to the idea, since the financial scandal involving Enron reminded them that the bankrupt company had sponsored a sports facility, which was the Enron Field, later renamed Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Some politicians argued over the naming the Coliseum after a Puerto Rican celebrity. Some of the names mentioned were that of pop star Chayanne, boxer Félix "Tito" Trinidad and actor Raúl Juliá. Puerto Rican law demanded that no facility could be named after a living individual and there were talks of making an exception to the law should a living Puerto Rican icon be honored with the name.

However, the name of beloved local comedian José Miguel Agrelot was chosen when the Coliseum was near its completion. Agrelot himself had suggested the name of Rafael Hernández Marín to be used, and when someone suggested his name instead he was both surprised and concerned. He was quoted as saying once in his radio show, Tu Alegre Despertar: "I can only hope my name won't be used, since I'd like God to keep me alive for quite some time... it would be a great honor, and I wouldn't object to it if that is what people want, but public facilities here are customarily named after dead people... I won't even dare to think about it. I'd only like the controversy over the name to stop".

Soon after, Agrelot died in his sleep while taking an afternoon nap, on January 28, 2004. The almost unanimous consensus of most Puerto Ricans was that Agrelot deserved the honor, and the facility was dedicated to him on what would have been his birthday that year. A bust of Agrelot as his character Don Cholito stands at the Coliseum's lobby in his honor. The bust bears a plaque inscribed with his immortal words: "I feel satisfied and fulfilled with my life. I thank God for letting me reach all that I have accomplished. When I see how blessed I have been, born within my heart, there's an immense desire to fuse myself with space, pass the night in a star and travel to infinity. There, in front of the Creator and on my knees, I wish to give thanks for letting me live and be a part of this marvelous sanctuary they call... Puerto Rico".

Parking and transportation[edit]

Night view of the Coliseum of Puerto Rico from the Tren Urbano Hato Rey Station

Even though, a major public parking space was not included or constructed, the arena has a small exclusive parking lot outside the arena for the disabled. Private-owned parking spaces around the Choliseo can be found and charge a fee, averagely up to $6, in most cases. The only major parking space constructed for the arena is at the backstage entrance only allowed for talent, production, equipment, props, etc. The Tren Urbano is by far the most used transportation mode to and from the Choliseo and extends operating hours after an hour after nighttime events end, usually until midnight.

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Pollstar, the prestigious U.S. based magazine, chose the Coliseum of Puerto Rico as the International Large Venue of the Year in 2005, recognized as one of the most important venues in the world, competing with the Acer Arena in Sydney, the Manchester Evening News Arena in Manchester The Auditorio Nacional in Mexico City, and the Odyssey Arena in Belfast.

"The Choliseo, as Puerto Ricans affectionately call, was another of those pleasant surprises last year", continued Rivera Cardona. "It received Pollstar's coveted 2005 Best New International Large Venue of the Year and it was nominated again for the Best International Venue of the Year in 2006". The Coliseum of Puerto Rico ranks No. 15 in ticket sales worldwide according to industry trade magazine Pollstar.

The Coliseum of Puerto Rico has developed into the premier entertainment site of the Island. Since its inauguration in September 2004 over 3 million people have crossed its gates bringing in $128 million in gross ticket revenue and hosting more than 516 events.

On May 26, 2011, the Choliseo was ranked 8th on the Top 50 Arena Venues of the world and second of the West Hemisphere in worldwide ticket sales by Pollstar Magazine, surpassing the Staples Center in Los Angeles, the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Wembley Arena in London, etc. In the first three months of 2011, the coliseum received an overwhelming number of people of over 205,000. During the first trimester, the coliseum was ranked 13 times in the 25 best arenas worldwide, according to Pollstar, Billboard Magazine and Venues Today.[4]

The Choliseo from the northeast parking lot

Another popular show business magazine, Venues Today, placed the Choliseo as one of the 25 Best Arenas of the Decade in the world in the category of establishments with a capacity of between 15,000 and 30,000 spectators, a recognition in which Wesley Cullen, Choliseo general manager, reacted: "This is amazing and is very positive news for the people of Puerto Rico", said Cullen.

One of the most important requirements that influenced the award was box office sales, which during the eight years it's been opened has exceeded $4.9 million, generating about $220 million. "Puerto Rico is a phenomenon at the box office. We have always been among the top 20 in the world (in sales) because the Puerto Ricans like to have fun", he said.

According to Cullen, this level of event assistance puts Puerto Rico at the level of cities like New York, San Francisco or Dallas. Pollstar magazine show business awards also recognized the Choliseo after being nominated in the category of International Large Venue of the Year. At the time, the venue was competing with major rivals like the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai, the O2 Arena and the Royal Albert Hall, both in London, and the O2 World in Berlin.

"Just the fact of being nominated with these competitors is a huge honor. If we don't win, however, it will represent a great achievement", he explained. The manager explained that one of the best rewards the Choliseo has being among the best in the world is that it's being targeted by artists and producers who don't know Puerto Rico or consider it for their performance tours.

"It is an honor to have the responsibility of directing the Convention District Authority, including the Coliseum of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico's major entertainment center and of the Caribbean, demonstrating our commitment to project to Puerto Rico as what is an island that has nothing to envy to the rest of the world", said Víctor Suárez, executive director of the Convention District.

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