Named for Senator Ralph E. Swing, the arena was constructed at the grounds of the National Orange Show in 1949.
Many musicians and other artists performed at the venue, including Jack Benny, George Burns, Louis Armstrong, Grateful Dead, Ike and Tina Turner, Elvis Presley and (for 13 consecutive years) Bob Hope.
Sammy Davis, Jr. hosted a benefit concert at the venue in 1958, featuring performances by Judy Garland, Jerry Lewis, Tony Curtis, Danny Thomas and Shirley MacLaine. Davis hosted the event to demonstrate his appreciation to the San Bernardino Community Hospital for treating him following an automobile accident in 1954. Davis lost his left eye as a result.
The venue altered in the 1960s, becoming a prominent rock arena for the West Coast.
In 1964, it was the launching point of the first American tour of The Rolling Stones.
On September 11, 1981, the auditorium was irreparably damaged when it was struck by a small plane, following which the building had to be destroyed.