Louisville Gardens

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Louisville Gardens
Louisville Gardens roadwork.jpg
Former names Jefferson County Armory, Louisville Convention Center
Location Louisville, Kentucky
Opened 1905
Owner City of Louisville
Capacity 6,000
Public transit access
Jefferson County Armory
Coordinates 38°15′5.06″N 85°45′37.26″W / 38.2514056°N 85.7603500°W / 38.2514056; -85.7603500Coordinates: 38°15′5.06″N 85°45′37.26″W / 38.2514056°N 85.7603500°W / 38.2514056; -85.7603500
Built 1905
Built by Caldwell & Drake
Architect Davis,Brinton B.;
Architectural style Beaux Arts
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 80001606 [1]
Added to NRHP March 24, 1980

Louisville Gardens is a multi-purpose, 6,000 seat arena, in Louisville, Kentucky, that opened in 1905, as the Jefferson County Armory. It celebrated its 100th anniversary as former city mayor Jerry Abramson's official "Family-Friendly New Years Eve" celebration location. The facility has served the city of Louisville and Jefferson County in a variety of ways during the past century, from utilization as an actual armory to American Basketball Association's Kentucky Colonels basketball games, to various wrestling events, concerts, political rallies, and Hurricane Katrina flood relief have also been staged there. More recently, WWE used the 3,000 person capacity arena as a training ground for future stars in a minor-league promotion known as Ohio Valley Wrestling, until the organization moved to the Davis Arena. WWE also staged two pay-per-view events at Louisville Gardens: (In Your House 6 and In Your House 17: Ground Zero). TNA Wrestling held an event at the venue in 2008. Freedom Hall replaced the small, aging facility in 1956, as a more popular venue for city events.

Primary home of Louisville Cardinals men's basketball starting in 1945 when Bernard “Peck” Hickman was head coach until the 1957-58 season when they moved to Freedom Hall. They played a few more games there up until their last on Nov. 30, 1972. The Louisville Cardinals were 153-23 all time at the armory.[2] The Kentucky Wildcats when led by Adolph Rupp played 72 games at the armory going 61-11 there from 1937 to 1956[3] Included in that was games played in the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament which was held at the armory from 1941-1952. Additionally, the Ohio Valley Conference men's basketball tournament was held there from 1949–1955 and again from 1964-1967.

The Kentucky Colonels, of the American Basketball Association, played their home games at the facility, then known as the Louisville Convention Center, from 1967 through 1970. Louie Dampier was the team's best player in the era.[4] On November 24, 1968, Penny Ann Earley became the first female to appear in a men's professional league, playing briefly in a home game for the Colonels.[5]

The Louisville Catbirds, of the Continental Basketball Association (1983–1985), the Louisville Shooters, of the Global Basketball Association (1991–1992) and the Kentucky Colonels, of the ABA 2000 (2004–2006), all played their home basketball games at the Louisville Gardens. The University of Louisville women's basketball team used the Gardens for six home games in the 1997–98 season.[6] Ice hockey teams to use the Gardens as home ice include the Louisville Blades, Louisville Shooting Stars and the Louisville Rebels.

Martin Luther King Jr. (Tuesday, August 23, 1960)[7] and Harry Truman both spoke there.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

The building was also known as the Convention Center or Louisville Convention Center, mostly in the 1960s and 1970s. It was renamed Louisville Gardens in 1975 when the Commonwealth Convention Center (now called Kentucky International Convention Center) was being built.

In 2007, the Cordish Company, manager of the nearby Fourth Street Live! entertainment complex, agreed to take over operation of "The Gardens" from the Metro Louisville Government as part of a $250 million development in downtown Louisville. In 2012, Cordish was released from its obligations to the Gardens.[8]

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