North Charleston Coliseum
|North Charleston Coliseum|
|"Casa del Ray" "Hockeyharbor, USA"|
|Location||5001 Coliseum Drive
North Charleston, SC 29418
|Broke ground||April 29, 1991|
|Opened||January 29, 1993|
|Owner||City of North Charleston|
|Construction cost||$25 million
($39.7 million in 2013 dollars)
|Structural engineer||Geiger Engineers|
|General contractor||McDevitt & Street Co.|
|Capacity||13,295 (floor events)
10,537 (hockey, football)
|South Carolina Stingrays (ECHL) (1993–present)
Charleston Southern Buccaneers (basketball, home games versus mid-major and major teams) (1993–present)
Charleston Swamp Foxes (AF2) (2000–2003)
Charleston Lowgators (NBA D-League) (2001–2004)
Carolina Sandsharks (NIFL) (2006)
The North Charleston Coliseum is a 14,000-seat multi-purpose arena in North Charleston, South Carolina. It is part of the North Charleston Convention Center Complex, which also includes a Performing Arts Center, and is owned by the City of North Charleston and managed by SMG. The Coliseum was built in 1993 (the Performing Arts Center and Convention Center opened in 1999), and is located on the access road to the Charleston International Airport.
The Coliseum is home to the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays professional ice hockey team and serves as an alternate home for the Charleston Southern University basketball team. It is the area's primary venue for concerts and other major indoor events expected to draw large crowds. The Coliseum is currently undergoing an expansion project intended to increase concourse space, provide additional points of sale, and create venues for banquets, receptions, and other smaller-scale events.
The Coliseum is the current home of the South Carolina Stingrays, a minor professional ice hockey team that plays in the ECHL. When construction first began on the arena there were no plans to include ice-making equipment. However, after an ECHL franchise application for the city of North Charleston had been pre-approved by the league in April 1992, the city council approved the funds required for the installation of an ice surface into the building that was already well under construction. The Stingrays began play there for the 1993–94 ECHL season.
It is the alternate home arena for the Charleston Southern University basketball team. Typically, Charleston Southern University uses the Coliseum for non-conference games that draw audiences greater than their home arena's 798-seat capacity, such as cross-town rivals College of Charleston and The Citadel. Furthermore, its size allows them to play major conference teams such as Virginia Tech at home (some major conference arenas do not seat 10,000). In addition, The North Charleston Coliseum has hosted the Big South Conference (1993–94) and the Southern Conference basketball tournaments.
In addition to sporting events, the arena hosts concerts, comedy shows and various other events. The Coliseum has served as the venue for several televised events, to include WWF In Your House pay-per-view (1996), WCW Uncensored (1997), Shania Twain (2004), WWE Raw (2005), PBR Built Ford Tough Series (2006), Wheel of Fortune (2006), and American Idol auditions (2007, 2011).
Other major concerts and events have included Oprah Winfrey (2006), Walking with Dinosaurs (2008), a CNN Presidential Debate (2012), Kid Rock (2008, 2011), The Dave Matthews Band (since 2005), Katy Perry (2011), Kenny Chesney (2011) and Prince (2011).
Planning and construction 
Planning for the coliseum began in 1985, when a city-sponsored study determined that the city could support a venue seating 10,000-plus people. In October of that year, the McNair Realty and Development company of Greenville, SC, who owned the 400-acre Centre Pointe development tract, donated 30 acres of that land valued at approximately $100,000 an acre to the city for construction of the coliseum. The coliseum was originally planned to be part of a redevelopment dubbed "City Center," which was to include the coliseum, a convention center, a performing arts center, a transportation hub, a library, an art gallery and museum, an arts school, parking garages, and scenic park areas, and was to have been completed by 2000. As of June 2011, only the coliseum, convention center, and performing arts center have been completed.
In September 1988, the city considered five architectural firms for design and supervision of the coliseum's construction, eventually settling on Odell Associates, Inc. City Council approved a $25 million budget for design and construction of the coliseum and by February 1991 accepted a $19.8 million bid for the construction contract by McDevitt and Street Co. of Charlotte, NC. Construction began on April 29, 1991, with an estimated completion time of 20 months. In September 1992, the City Council approved $879,000 to fund installation of an ice rink in the coliseum, which at that time was scheduled for completion by December 26 of that year. The ECHL Board of Governors met in November 1992 to vote on bringing a hockey franchise (whose application had been pre-approved that April) to the Charleston area. At that meeting, the league approved creation of the expansion franchise for the 1993–94 ECHL season, giving the coliseum its first professional sports team as a tenant.
Grand opening 
The coliseum opened its doors on January 29, 1993 to a capacity crowd with its first event, the World Cup Figure Skating Champions ice skating exhibition. The opening night was plagued by parking issues that resulted in traffic congestion on local roads and up to an hour delay in clearing the parking lots following the show. The following night saw another sellout crowd for a concert featuring country music star Alan Jackson, for which the traffic problems were reduced due to early arrivals and improved traffic direction. The city expedited the expansion of available parking spaces from 4,000 to 5,030 soon after.
Tragedy struck on November 10, 1997, when the 5-ton coliseum scoreboard dropped while it was being lowered, landing on and killing Billie Wayne Garrett, a rodeo volunteer from Columbia, SC. Coliseum officials believed the issue was with the board's hoisting mechanism, which was manufactured by a New Jersey company that had recently experienced hoist failures in two of its mechanisms, one resulting in a scoreboard dropping to the floor. The fall also caused a crack in the coliseum floor, but it was repaired and no damage was found to have been done to the piping system that makes ice for the coliseum floor. Garrett's family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company that manufactured the scoreboard, the company that had recently inspected and passed the scoreboard, and Ogden Entertainment, the coliseum's managing company. The lawsuit was settled for $3.5 million. An upgraded scoreboard featuring improved video panels and a safer hoisting setup was installed in October 1999.
New management 
In August 2000, Ogden Entertainment—which had managed the coliseum since its opening in 1993—was purchased by Aramark. Aramark urged city officials to transfer management of the coliseum to SMG, of which Aramark was a half owner at the time, in an effort to leverage SMG's entertainment industry connections to bring more concerts to the area. In an effort to bolster attendance at the coliseum, which had been operating at a loss for two years, SMG took over management of the coliseum in late 2001, agreeing to construct a large freestanding marquee visible from Interstate 526 as part of the management contract.
An ambitious expansion project was approved for financing by the city of North Charleston in 2009. The expansion consists of extensions built onto the Coliseum's north and south entrances, increasing concourse space by 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) and adding up to 40 additional points of sale for concessions. The expansion will allow for renovation of existing suites and upgrades to the Coliseum's sound system, spotlights, and rigging bridges. Construction on the south side extension, dubbed Montague Terrace, commenced in August 2010 with a planned completion date of October 2011. Construction of the north side extension is slated follow in 2011.
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