Beasley Coliseum

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Beasley Coliseum
Full name Beasley Coliseum
Former names Washington State University
Performing Arts Coliseum
Location Washington State University
225 N. Grand Ave.
Pullman, Washington
Owner Washington State University
Operator Washington State University
Capacity 11,671 (2006–present)
11,566 (2004–2006)
12,058 (1973–2004)
Broke ground February 8, 1971[1]
Opened June 3, 1973[3][4][5]
44 years ago
Construction cost $8.5 million ($45.9 million in 2016 dollars[2])
Architect John Graham & Company
Washington State Cougars - NCAA
Beasley Coliseum is located in the US
Beasley Coliseum
Beasley Coliseum
Location in the United States
Beasley Coliseum is located in Washington (state)
Beasley Coliseum
Beasley Coliseum
Location in Washington

Beasley Coliseum is a general-purpose arena on the campus of Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. Opened 44 years ago in June 1973,[3][4] its current seating capacity is 11,671 for basketball. It is the home venue for both the Cougars men's and women's basketball teams of the Pac-12 Conference.

The arena was renamed in 1981 for Wallis Beasley (1915–2008),[6] a long-time sociology professor and executive vice president,[7] shortly before his retirement from the university. Beasley was WSU's faculty representative for athletics in the 1960s and also served as interim university president.[8][9][10][11] For its first eight years, the venue was known as "Washington State University Performing Arts Coliseum."

The building used "space frame" construction, relatively novel at the time.[12] The elevation of the court is approximately 2,550 feet (780 m) above sea level.

First games[edit]

Its first sporting event was an NBA exhibition game between Seattle and Portland on September 25, 1973.[13][14] The first collegiate sporting event was a men's varsity basketball game against LSU on December 1, immediately preceded by a freshman game.[15][16][17] Intercollegiate basketball was formerly played in Bohler Gymnasium, which opened in 1928 and is now home to Cougar volleyball.

The building's inaugural event was the university's commencement exercises on June 3, 1973.[3][4][5][18]

Friel Court[edit]

Located on the east side of campus, the building includes Friel Court, the name of the basketball playing surface. It honors Jack Friel (1898–1995), the longtime head coach of the WSU men's basketball team, who led the Cougars to 495 victories over 30 years. Friel stepped down as head coach in 1958 became the first commissioner of the Big Sky Conference, originally based in Pullman (from 1963 to 1971), because that's where he lived. The court was named for Friel in late April 1977, announced by President Glenn Terrell at a meeting of the board of regents.[19]

NCAA tournament[edit]

The coliseum has hosted the sub-regionals of the NCAA men's basketball tournament three times: 1975, 1982, and 1984.

The 1975 tournament had 32 teams and the sub-regional had just two games: Montana and eventual champion UCLA advanced before 10,500. UCLA trailed Michigan by four at halftime and needed overtime to win by nine.[20] Montana beat Utah State by six.[21] The next week in Portland, UCLA defeated Montana.

By 1982, the tournament had 48 teams and its Pullman sub-regional had four games with six teams. Both seeded teams with first-round byes advanced: Oregon State dispatched Pepperdine and Palouse neighbor Idaho outlasted Iowa in overtime to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, with 12,340 in attendance.[22][23][24] The next week in Provo, Utah, OSU eliminated Idaho, then was defeated by Georgetown, the eventual runner-up.

The 1984 tournament had 53 teams and six played in Pullman. WSU's archrival Washington beat Nevada then upset seeded Duke while eventual champion Georgetown outlasted SMU 37-36 before over 10,500 spectators.[25]


The building's full name reflects the fact that it is used not only for concerts, big-name speakers, dinners, and commencement, but also for basketball as mentioned above. The building may be reconfigured for seating capacities of 12,000 in the round to 9,000 in an end-stage configuration for concerts, to 2,500 in a theater configuration using an extensive system of fly-in curtains, an adjustable cloth scrim ceiling, and a portable proscenium stored under the floor.

The original opera house / theater configuration featured one of the first synthesized acoustical environments using surround speaker systems. An onsite reverberation chamber tuned with fiberglass panels for the specific acoustical configuration was combined with the first commercial use of a digital delay line, the Lexicon DD1, then fed to the side and overhead speakers. When properly set up, it was capable producing a very convincing acoustical rendition of a theater, an opera house, or by changing the delay settings and retuning the reverb chamber, even a cathedral. Unfortunately, a sewer drain line had been installed from the southeast corner restroom facilities through the reverb chamber, and if a toilet flushed when the system was in operation, the resulting sound effect was extraordinary. After discovering that, locking the restroom was a management priority whenever the theater was prepared for surround sound use. More recently full digital reverberation replaced the chamber.

The Coliseum's Hall of Fame—famous entertainers who have performed there—include comedians such as Bob Hope, Bill Cosby, Jay Leno and Whoopi Goldberg and musical stars or shows such as The 5th Dimension, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Def Leppard, Metallica, Metal Church, Van Halen, Dana Carvey, Drew Carey, Montgomery Gentry, Bill Engvall, Howie Mandel, Grease & Cats. The Harlem Globetrotters have performed there five times.

The coliseum has been the venue, for many years, for the Great Performances series, organized by Festival Dance and Performing Arts Association, of neighboring Moscow, Idaho.

Overflow crowds attended lectures by Noam Chomsky on April 22, 2005, and by Jane Goodall on March 8, 2007.

On March 6, 2010, the arena hosted a WWE SmackDown house show.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Coliseum Site (photo)". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. February 9, 1971. p. 11. 
  2. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2017. 
  3. ^ a b c "New WSU Coliseum expands seating for events". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. photos. May 5, 1973. p. 9. 
  4. ^ a b c "WSU holds graduation for 2,462". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. June 4, 1973. p. 6. 
  5. ^ a b "WSU graduation opens Coliseum". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. June 4, 1973. p. 6. 
  6. ^ White, Vera (November 4, 1993). "Reflections on the first 20 years". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. p. 1C. 
  7. ^ "Dr. Beasley is promoted to new post". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. October 26, 1968. p. 8. 
  8. ^ "College names acting president". Tri-City Herald. Washington. Associated Press. August 16, 1966. p. 10. 
  9. ^ "Interim chief is named at university". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. August 30, 1966. p. 3. 
  10. ^ "Wallis Beasley - obituary". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. May 24, 2008. p. 4A. 
  11. ^ "Wallis Beasley". Find a Grave. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Novel technique used". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. (photo). September 18, 1971. p. 7. 
  13. ^ "WSU books Russell, Sonics". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. August 22, 1973. p. 16. 
  14. ^ "Sonics finally win". Ellensburg Daily Record. Washington. UPI. September 26, 1973. p. 13. 
  15. ^ Barrows, Bob (December 2, 1973). "Cougars beat LSU 80-78". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 17. 
  16. ^ Barrows, Bob (December 1, 1973). "Cougars open up against LSU". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 16. 
  17. ^ This Week in Cougar History Archived January 3, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ "Ceremony opens center". Spokane Daily Chronicle. Washington. (photo). June 4, 1973. p. 1. 
  19. ^ "It's now 'Friel Court'". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. April 30, 1977. p. 19. 
  20. ^ "Bruins survive, win in overtime". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. wire services. March 16, 1975. p. 4B. 
  21. ^ "UCLA next for spirited Montana team". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. March 17, 1975. p. 13. 
  22. ^ Missildine, Harry (March 15, 1982). "Idaho: next stop, Provo". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. p. 15. 
  23. ^ Van Sickel, Charlie (March 15, 1982). "UI Vandals: Sweet 16 and...". Spokane Chronicle. Washington. p. 15. 
  24. ^ Killen, John (March 15, 1982). "Kellerman's last shot paves way to Provo". Lewiston Morning Tribune. Idaho. p. 1C. 
  25. ^ "Huskies show the Devils no respect". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. March 19, 1984. p. 15. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°44′6″N 117°9′27″W / 46.73500°N 117.15750°W / 46.73500; -117.15750