|Location||996 Early Maxwell Blvd, Memphis, Tennessee, 38104|
|NRHP Reference #||00001429|
|Added to NRHP||December 6, 2000|
The Mid-South Coliseum, also known as "The Entertainment Capital of the Mid-South", was a multi-purpose arena, that seated 10,085 people, in Memphis, Tennessee. It was built in 1963 and closed in 2006.
The arena was one of the few stops on The Beatles' final American tour. The group played two concerts there on August 19, 1966. The evening performance is infamously known as "the firecracker concert", due to a crowd member exploding a firecracker (which some thought was a gunshot) during the show. Prior to the concert, a remote television news feed, with the arena in the background, shows a Ku Klux Klansman promising "a few surprises" for the group. This interview was in response to John Lennon's statement that The Beatles had become more popular than Jesus Christ.
Former Beatle George Harrison performed at the arena in 1974, the only member of The Beatles to return to the arena.
Elvis Presley also performed at the arena. His first show was on March 16, 1974, which was his first Memphis concert since 1961. The album Recorded Live In Stage In Memphis was the concert from March 20, 1974. Elvis' last concert at the arena was on July 5, 1976. The album Recorded Live on Elvis Presley Blvd, Memphis Tennessee featured for the front cover a photo of Elvis' show in 1975. Elvis In Concert 1997 — The 20th Anniversary Concert was held at the arena and mark the first concert for the Elvis, The Concert.
Canadian singer Celine Dion performed a two-night stand at the arena on March 14 and 15, 1997 as part of her Falling Into You Around the World Tour. The shows were filmed and the concert aired on television. It was also released on VHS in November 1998 under the title Live in Memphis.
Even with The Pyramid and FedExForum being opened, the arena continued to host shows until its closure in 2006.
The Mid-South Coliseum was also well known in professional wrestling as the home base for the United States Wrestling Association and its predecessors; Jerry Lawler headlined hundreds of shows at the facility. Among many notable events, Lawler faced Terry Funk in a now-legendary "empty arena fight" at the Coliseum in 1981. On April 7, 1982, Lawler piledrove comedian Andy Kaufman twice, ending a match between the two in disqualification. Kaufman was taken away in an ambulance.
The Mid-South Coliseum served as the home of the original Central Hockey League team, the Memphis Wings (later the Memphis South Stars) from 1964 through 1969. To accommodate hockey, piping was installed beneath the Coliseum's floor surface to allow the circulation of brine in order to make ice. The ice was often left intact between games, allowing Memphis residents to partake in public skating. In 1992, the Memphis RiverKings of the newly re-formed Central Hockey League brought a successful return of professional hockey to the Mid-South Coliseum, drawing good crowds from 1992-2000. Trying political circumstances prevented much needed updates from being made to the Coliseum, resulting in the RiverKings moving to the new DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven, MS in 2000.
The Memphis Rogues played the 1979–80 season of NASL indoor soccer at the Coliseum. The Rogues won the Western Division and went all the way to the finals, winning Game 1 of the series, 5–4 at home in front of 9,081 fans before losing Game 2 and the mini-game tie breaker to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at the Bayfront Center.
ABA Franchise: History in Memphis at the Coliseum
The Coliseum was home to the American Basketball Association Memphis franchise. The team was called the Memphis Pros (1971–1972), the Memphis Tams (1972–1974) and the Memphis Sounds (1974–1975). After the New Orleans Buccaneers moved upriver to Memphis in 1971, the Memphis Pros struggled in their first season. The team was then purchased by baseball Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley, who renamed them the Tams and briefly hired legendary Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp as team President. After Finley sold the team, the renamed Sounds also struggled in 1974-75. The franchise left Memphis for Baltimore in 1975, becoming the Baltimore Claws and folded before playing a regular season game.
As an ABA arena the Coliseum, with the Pros and Sounds, hosted the Indiana Pacers during the 1971 Western Division Semifinals and the Kentucky Colonels during the 1975 Eastern Division Finals; the Pacers went on to win the 1971 ABA Championship and the Colonels went on to win the 1975 ABA Championship.
It was home to the University of Memphis Tigers basketball team (then known as Memphis State University) before the Pyramid opened in 1991 and the Memphis RiverKings before the DeSoto Civic Center opened in 2000. The Coliseum also hosted five Metro Conference men's basketball tournaments.
In 2001, illusionist David Copperfield used the Mid-South Coliseum to film the live audience portion of his Tornado of Fire TV special.
The venue closed at the end of 2006, apparently because the cost to bring the venue into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act was prohibitive. Its final event was a concert by the Transiberian Orchestra.
- Triumph Tour
- prowrestlinghistory.com, "The History of Wrestling at the Mid-South Coliseum" Retrieved 2008-01-20.
- RememberTheABA.com 1971 Playoffs Page
|Events and tenants|
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1992 – 1999
DeSoto Civic Center