The Big E Coliseum
|The Big E Coliseum|
|Former names||Eastern States Coliseum|
|Location||West Springfield, Massachusetts|
|Owner||City Of West Springfield|
|Operator||Eastern States Coliseum|
|Springfield Indians 1926-1972, New England Whalers 1974-1975|
The Big E Coliseum was built in 1926. The longtime home of the Springfield Indians professional hockey team in the American Hockey League, it was a part time home to the New England Whalers ice hockey team while the team was in the World Hockey Association, as well as briefly being the venue for the Hartford Whalers when the team joined the National Hockey League, until the repair of the Hartford Civic Center in January, 1980. In the 1940s through to the building of the Springfield Civic Center in 1972, the Coliseum frequently hosted local showings of the Ice Capades and the Ice Follies.
Today, though the ice plant has been dismantled and hockey games are no longer played there, the arena is a venue for The Big E, and hosts Shriner circuses, equestrian shows and other local events. The Coliseum has often been the location for the draft horse World Championship Finals, serving as such in 1998, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2009.
Indians and The Coliseum
The first game played in the new arena was on December 1, 1926. Boxing promoter Tex Rickard dropped the ceremonial first puck. The Springfield Indians lost to the Providence Reds 3–1. In 1933, the parent New York Rangers decided to pull the franchise out of Springfield, but the Indians were back in the Coliseum for the 1935–36 season when J. Lucien Garneau transferred his Quebec City club to Springfield. Since there were no more Canadian teams in the league, the circuit in 1936–37 became the American Hockey League. When World War II broke out, the franchise had to be suspended for the duration of the war due to the Eastern States Exposition grounds being commandeered by the United States Army for use as a quartermaster's depot. The Indians were back at the Coliseum for the 1946–47 season until 1972, when the team moved into the Springfield Civic Center in downtown Springfield at the start of the 1972–73 season. The Coliseum was also used by the New England Whalers of the WHA for two seasons before moving to Hartford. The franchise remains as the Carolina Hurricanes of the NHL. After this, it served primarily as a venue for high school hockey until the deteriorating ice plant was removed in 1991.
- "Hartford Whalers found their way to Eastern States Coliseum," Springfield Republican, May 9, 2009
- "Birthday Edition Of Ice Capades Hailed By Critics," Hartford Courant, November 1, 1959.
- "Hockey mecca's demise leaves high schools scrambling," USA Today, April 1, 1991
- Eastern States Exhibition website
- BigE Draft Horse Show
|Home of the
New England Whalers
1973 – 1975
Hartford Civic Center