Coliseum at Richfield

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Coliseum at Richfield
Coliseumlogo.PNG
AERIAL VIEW OF THE COLISEUM BUILT NEAR INTERSTATE 271 SOUTH OF CLEVELAND, OHIO. FARMS NEAR THE STRUCTURE EVENTUALLY... - NARA - 558054.jpg
Aerial view of the Coliseum and neighboring farms in 1975
Location 2923 Streetsboro Road
Richfield Township, OH 44286
Coordinates 41°14′43″N 81°35′38″W / 41.24528°N 81.59389°W / 41.24528; -81.59389Coordinates: 41°14′43″N 81°35′38″W / 41.24528°N 81.59389°W / 41.24528; -81.59389
Broke ground November 1972
Opened October 26, 1974[1]
Closed September 1, 1994[1]
Demolished May 21, 1999
Owner George and Gordon Gund
Operator George and Gordon Gund
Construction cost $36 million[1]
($203 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect George E. Ross Architects, Inc.[3]
Capacity Basketball: 20,273
Ice hockey: 18,544
Tenants
Cleveland Barons (NHL) (1976–1978)
Cleveland Crusaders (WHA) (1974–1976)
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) (1974–1994)
Cleveland Force (MISL) (1978–1988)
Cleveland Crunch (MSL) (1989–1992)
Cleveland Lumberjacks (IHL) (1992–1994)
Cleveland Thunderbolts (AFL) (1992–1994)

The Coliseum at Richfield (also known as Richfield Coliseum) was an arena located in Richfield Township in Summit County, Ohio, roughly halfway between Cleveland and Akron. It was home to the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, WHA's Cleveland Crusaders, NHL's Cleveland Barons, MISL's Cleveland Force, MISL, & NPSL's Cleveland Crunch, the IHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks, and the AFL's Cleveland Thunderbolts. It hosted the 1981 NBA All-Star Game, WWF's Survivor Series 1987, Survivor Series 1988, and Survivor Series 1992 and The Buckeye Homecoming, the 1983 professional boxing match bout between Michael Dokes and Gerrie Coetzee.

It also hosted concerts, with its first event being a concert by Frank Sinatra and the last being a concert by Roger Daltrey in 1994, which was also the last official event at the arena. The first rock concert at the Richfield Coliseum was Stevie Wonder in October 1974.[4] It was also the site of the March 24, 1975 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner which in part inspired the movie Rocky.[5] In a 2012 interview with ESPN's Bill Simmons, basketball great Larry Bird said that it was his favorite arena to play in. The Coliseum was the site of Bird's final game in the NBA.

Opening[edit]

The arena, which opened in 1974, replaced the then-decrepit Cleveland Arena, which had 12,500+ boxing capacity, 10,000+ otherwise. The new arena seated about 20,000 for basketball and 18,500 for hockey, and was one of the first indoor arenas to contain luxury boxes. Nick Mileti was the driving force behind the Coliseum's construction, believing that its location in northern Summit County south of Cleveland near the confluence of the Ohio Turnpike and Interstates 77 and 271 was ideally suited given the growth of urban sprawl. The Coliseum was built in Richfield to draw fans from both of Northeast Ohio's major cities, as nearly 5 million Ohioans lived within less than an hour's drive (in good weather) from the Coliseum. While the arena's location hindered attendance somewhat, nevertheless, the Cavaliers' average attendance was over 18,000 per game each of the last 2 seasons at the Coliseum.

Attendance hindrances[edit]

Though a large arena at the time of construction, it had only one concourse for both levels, which became crowded during games at which the attendance was anywhere close to capacity. The Coliseum's real drawback was that the luxury suites, which generate much revenue, were at the uppermost level and as such, were the worst seats in the house. Once plans for Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena) in downtown Cleveland were announced in 1991, where the suites were much closer to the playing area, the Coliseum became economically obsolete.

Another hindrance to attendance was the arena's location at the intersection of Interstate 271 and Ohio State Route 303, which was a rural, two-lane highway outside of Richfield. Traffic became an issue with every Coliseum event, especially with lake-effect snow from Lake Erie providing another obstacle to drivers during the winter months.

Demolition and environmental remediation[edit]

After lying vacant for five years, the arena was torn down in 1999, between March 30[6] and May 21,[7] and the arena and surrounding parking areas were allowed to be returned to woodland as part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, now Cuyahoga Valley National Park.[8] Two years later it was noted that the site appeared to have no trace of the former building,[9] although a widened section of Route 303 reveals its location.

The site is now a grassy meadow and has become an important area for wildlife. Birds such as the Eastern meadowlark, bobolink, and various sparrows now inhabit the area. This has caused the site to become popular with local birders.[10][11] Other birds that are frequently seen are American goldfinch, red-winged blackbird, turkey vulture (buzzard), red-tailed hawk, and American kestrel.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Richfield Coliseum
  2. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  3. ^ "Levin Serious About New Arena for Hub". United Press International. May 12, 1977. Retrieved March 28, 2012. 
  4. ^ Scott, Jane. "Stevie Wonder rocks Coliseum" The Plain Dealer October 29, 1974: B2
  5. ^ Chuck Wepner's official website. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  6. ^ Albrecht, Brian E. (1999-03-30). "Death of the Palace on the Prairie". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  7. ^ "Ruins of the Coliseum". The Plain Dealer. 1999-05-22. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  8. ^ Chilcote, Lee (1999-11-01). "The Rise and Fall of Richfield Coliseum". Land & People (The Trust for Public Land). Retrieved 2012-04-12. 
  9. ^ Albrecht, Brian E. (2001-06-25). "Greening of the Coliseum". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2008-09-09. 
  10. ^ McCarty, James F. (2012-06-05). "Coliseum Grasslands Offer Intimate Views of Some of the Most-threatened Bird Species: Aerial View". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  11. ^ "Former Coliseum Property". Cuyahoga Valley National Park website (National Park Service). Retrieved 2012-06-10.

External links[edit]

Events and tenants
Preceded by
Cleveland Arena
Home of the
Cleveland Cavaliers

1974 – 1994
Succeeded by
Gund Arena/Quicken Loans Arena
Preceded by
Oakland Coliseum Arena
(Team was known as California Golden Seals)
Home of the
Cleveland Barons

1976 – 1979
Succeeded by
Met Center
(Team merged with Minnesota North Stars)
Preceded by
Capital Centre
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

1981
Succeeded by
Brendan Byrne Arena