Bojangles' Coliseum

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Bojangles' Coliseum
The Big I/The Old Coliseum
Bojangles Coliseum.png
Former names Charlotte Coliseum (1955–88)
Independence Arena (93–01)
Cricket Arena (2001–2008)
Location 2700 East Independence Boulevard
Charlotte, North Carolina 28205
Owner City of Charlotte
Operator Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority
Capacity 8,600 (2015–present)
9,605 (1993–2015)
10,000-14,000 (1955–1988)
Field size 99' x 212'
Scoreboard Daktronics 12.5' x 22' (main screens), 2' x 22' (auxiliary displays)[1]
Built 1953-1955
Opened 1955
Renovated 1988–93, 1995, 2015–16
Expanded 1970, 1992
Closed 1988
Reopened 1993
Construction cost $4 million for Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium[2]
($35.4 million in 2016 dollars[3])
Architect A.G. Odell and Associates of Charlotte, NC[4]
Project manager James C. Hemphill, Jr.
Structural engineer Severud, Elstad and Krueger of New York, NY[4]
General contractor Thompson and Street Company of Charlotte, NC[4] Structural Steel Fabrication and Erection
Southern Engineering Company of Charlotte, NC[4]
Carolina Cougars (ABA) (1969–1974)
Charlotte Checkers (EHL/SHL) (1956–1977)
Charlotte 49ers (NCAA) (1976–88, 1993–96)
Carolina Vipers (CISL) (1994)
Charlotte Cobras (MILL) (1996)
Charlotte Checkers (ECHL) (1993–2005)
Charlotte Krunk (ABA) (2005)
Arena Racing USA (2006–2008)
Charlotte Roller Girls (WFTDA) (2008–2009)
Carolina Speed (AIFA/SIFL) (2007–09, 2011)
Charlotte Copperheads (PLL) (2012)
Charlotte Checkers (AHL) (2015–present)

Bojangles' Coliseum (originally Charlotte Coliseum and formerly Independence Arena and Cricket Arena) is a 8,600-seat multi-purpose arena located in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which also oversees nearby Ovens Auditorium and the uptown Charlotte Convention Center. The naming-rights sponsor is Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits.[5]The building's signature domed roof is actually made of tin and not steel or iron.[6] The dome spans 332 feet in diameter and rises to 112 feet tall.[7]


Early years (1955–1988)[edit]

Construction began on the coliseum in 1953 after some delays. Gouldie Odell served as project designer; this represented his first major project and he would later found the Odell architecture firm.[8] James C. Hemphill, Jr. oversaw the project.[9] In September 1955 the building was opened and dedicated as the Charlotte Coliseum. At the time, it was the largest unsupported dome in the world and the first free-spanning dome in the United States.[10][11] Numerous newspapers and architectural magazines ran stories about the building over the following years, especially its dome. Total evacuation time for the entire structure was just four minutes, while seating capacity could be anywhere between 10,000 and 14,000 seats, approximately, depending on the event.[7]

A Billy Graham Crusade took place at the Coliseum in 1958. Graham also dedicated the building when it first opened. Elvis Presley had his first performance at the coliseum in 1956 and his final one in 1977,[12] being one of numerous musical acts to perform at the coliseum during this time. In 1958, a massive storm went through the region, damaging the coliseum's roof. However, the roof held up despite the damage.[13] In 1970, a new north entrance was added that, due to its location, made visitors walk onto the building's upper concourse after purchasing their tickets.[7] This entrance is still used today.

Refurbishment and reopening (1988–2001)[edit]

After the new Charlotte Coliseum opened in 1988, the original Coliseum was shuttered since the new building effectively took over all the original Coliseum's duties. However, people soon realized the original Coliseum would still be useful. Over the next five years, an extensive refurbishment was made to the structure, including technology, infrastructure, and accessibility upgrades. Once reopened in 1993, it was considered as an alternate to the larger Coliseum for events that required less seating or overall space. The Charlotte Checkers, the city's minor-league hockey team, were the building's primary tenant. It also got its first name change that same year to Independence Arena. Color TVs were installed inside the concourse and a small restaurant opened for select fans in 1995. In 2001, the arena was renamed Cricket Arena in a naming rights arrangement with Cricket Communications.[7][12]

Tough times (2005–2015)[edit]

In 2005, the Checkers departed Cricket Arena for the then-new Time Warner Cable Arena. Due to this, the Coliseum was left without a permanent tenant for a decade. The building remained open as a venue for medium-sized concerts and stage shows which wouldn't be suitable for TWC Arena, as well as high school and some college sporting events, along with local attractions. In 2008, Bojangles Restaurants, Inc., based in Charlotte, bought the naming rights.[14]

Questions about the building's future rose up over the following years due to its lack of events and age. In 2012, the city of Charlotte began considering renovating the building itself as a multi-use sports complex.[15] Two years later, another plan was announced with developer GoodSports that would add both a hotel and sports complex next to the Coliseum.[16][17] Both plans ultimately fell through.

Upgraded for a new age (2015–present)[edit]

In November 2014, the Charlotte Checkers announced a tentative agreement with the Charlotte Regional Visitors' Authority to return to Bojangles' Coliseum for the 2015–16 season. The agreement was pending a Charlotte City Council vote to approve $16 million in funding for renovations in conjunction with the Checkers' return[18] and that December, the city approved the $16 million needed. The renovations would include many modern amenities.[19] This would be the coliseum's first major renovation since the 1988 refurbishment.

Almost a year to the day when the Checkers announced their return to the Coliseum the renovations were completed and unveiled to the public. Aside from the all-new seats and score/video boards, new additions also included a sound system (replacing the one used since 1955[20]), locker rooms, a restaurant, and updated concessions.[21]

The Coliseum celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015. Additional renovations are set to be made in 2016, including upgraded heating/cooling, new internal lighting, and replacing the ice floor among other improvements.[22]



During its days as the Charlotte Coliseum it was one of the home arenas for the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association from 1969 through 1974. The Cougars became tenants after the Houston Mavericks moved to North Carolina in 1969. The Cougars were a "regional franchise", playing home games in Charlotte (Bojangles' Coliseum), Greensboro (Greensboro Coliseum), Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum and Raleigh (Dorton Arena). Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown began his coaching career with the Cougars in 1972. Billy Cunningham was the ABA MVP for the Cougars in the 1972-73 season. Despite a strong fan base the Cougars were sold and moved to St. Louis in 1974.[23]

The arena hosted the ACC men's basketball tournament from 1968–1970,[citation needed] the Southern Conference men's basketball tournament from 1964-1971 (and again in 2010 for the tournament's first three days), and was the site of the Sun Belt Conference men's basketball tournament from 1977 through 1980. Additionally, it hosted the Charlotte 49ers from 1976 until 1988, and again from 1993 until 1996. Overall, the coliseum has held no less than 15 tournaments between the three conferences and has also hosted 13 NCAA Tournaments.[24] In 2017, the CIAA men's and women's basketball tournaments will be played at the coliseum, which will mark the 29th college tournament played at the building.[12]

Hockey and other sports[edit]

Bojangles' Coliseum in 2007

Before the Checkers returned in 2015, Bojangles' was the home of minor league hockey for many years prior. The first instance started in 1956, when the Baltimore Clippers moved to Charlotte to become the first iteration of the Checkers. The building hosted its first hockey match in January 1956 before a sold-out crowd of over 10,000.[25] The club lasted until 1977, when they folded. When the Checkers were revived in 1993, they played at the Coliseum until 2005.[26] The Coliseum would have been available to host Kelly Cup Playoff games during the following decade (due to possible scheduling conflicts with TWC Arena), but this never occurred.

The Carolina Speed of the American Indoor Football Association, formerly playing at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center, moved to the Coliseum in 2009. After the season, they announced they would be sitting out the 2010 season and resuming play in 2011 back in Cabarrus. They returned in 2011 to the Coliseum, this time as a member of the Southern Indoor Football League and remained until 2013.

The arena also hosted the worst team in MILL history, the 1996 Charlotte Cobras (0–10). The 1996 season was their one and only in the MILL and the team was folded without ever winning a game. In 2012, the arena was home to the Charlotte Copperheads of the now defunct Professional Lacrosse League.

A soccer team, the Carolina Vipers, played their one and only season in the CISL in summer 1994. The team went 3–25 and then went "inactive" for 1995, never to return. The Vipers averaged 3,034 fans per game in their one season.

The coliseum hosted both NWA Wrestling and Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling from the 1970s to the 1990s. WCW also held numerous wrestling events there, including Starrcade 1993, the company's premier event of the year. Additionally, the building hosted UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Gomi on March 31, 2010.

The Charlotte Roller Girls roller derby league played their home bouts at the arena from 2008 to 2009 before moving to the Grady Cole Center.

Concerts and other events[edit]

Bojangles Coliseum has been the site for numerous concerts, shows, and various events throughout its lifespan. It has been the site for the Spring Commencement ceremonies of Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) for several years. JCSU uses the coliseum because it offers more seating and parking capacity than their own on-campus facilities. The Coliseum also hosted the graduation ceremony for the Charlotte campus of the University of Phoenix. In addition, the UNC-Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College and many local high schools have held and currently hold graduation ceremonies at the building.


  1. ^ "Daktronics Centerhung Display System Coming to Bojangles' Coliseum". 2015-10-19. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  2. ^ Charlotte - A Good Place to Live, A Good Place To Do Business, The Charlotte News, 1954, pg 23.
  3. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis Community Development Project. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved October 21, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hanks, Edmund E.. "Steel in the Round." Steel Construction Digest, American Institute of Steel Construction Vol 11, No 4, Fourth Quarter, 1954 14-15.
  5. ^ "GOTTA WANNA NEEDA GETTA HAVA" New name? Two Charlotte Originals - together at last" (PDF). November 25, 2008. Retrieved 2 December 2010. 
  6. ^ Pricemsprice, Mark (2015-11-04). "Renovated Bojangles' Coliseum makes its debut in Charlotte | The Herald". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Charlotte Coliseum Survey & Research Report". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  8. ^ "Odell". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  9. ^ "Charlotte 240". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  10. ^ LeGette Blythe and Charles Brockmann, Hornets' Nest: The Story of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County (Charlotte, NC: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, 1961) p. 390 "Hornets' Nest, Ch. 12, "Cultural Interests"". 
  11. ^ [1][dead link]
  12. ^ a b c "History of Bojangles' Coliseum and Ovens Auditorium". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  13. ^ Aaron, David (2013-03-22). "Question the Queen City: The history behind Bojangles' Coliseum | The CLog | Creative Loafing Charlotte". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  14. ^ "Bojangles' lands arena naming-rights deal". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  15. ^ Harrison, Steve (2014-09-24). "Amateur sports complex at Bojangles' Coliseum on hold". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  16. ^ Harrison, Steve (2014-03-22). "Charlotte eyes $72 million hotel-sports complex around Bojangles' Coliseum". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  17. ^ "Why It Might Be Time For Bojangles' Coliseum To Leave the Building - Poking the Hornet's Nest - March 2014 - Charlotte, NC". 2014-03-24. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  18. ^ "Checkers Reach Tentative Agreement to Return to Bojangles' Coliseum". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  19. ^ "Charlotte City Council Approves Funding to Renovate Bojangles' Coliseum". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  20. ^ "Bojangles' Coliseum, Bofa Stadium all to look better by fall". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  21. ^ "Bojangles' Coliseum ready for Checkers season opener - | WBTV Charlotte". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  22. ^ "What Comes Next in the Renovation of Bojangles". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  23. ^ "Carolina Cougars". Remember the ABA. Retrieved 2014-05-19. 
  24. ^ "Home Courts: Name changes, newer arenas don't diminish charm, history of Bojangles' Coliseum | College Sports". 2014-10-27. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  25. ^ "Hockey Insider: Checkers reach tentative agreement to return to Bojangles' Coliseum". 2014-11-24. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  26. ^ "History - Charlotte Checkers Hockey". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  27. ^ "Hittin' The Web with The Allman Brothers Band :: Where Music Plus Friends Equals Family". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  28. ^ "Hittin' The Web with The Allman Brothers Band :: Where Music Plus Friends Equals Family". 1980-11-27. Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  29. ^ a b Hey Baby Days (July 7, 2009). "Spontanes live at the Charlotte Coliseum (with Dave Clark Five) July 25, 1965,". Retrieved June 6, 2016. 
  30. ^ "Tour Information 1969". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  31. ^ "Tour Information 1957". Retrieved June 6, 2016. 
  32. ^ "Creedence Clearwater Revival Concerts 1968-1972 - Electric Bayou - Creedence Clearwater Revival & John Fogerty". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  33. ^ "David Cassidy Concerts - 1972". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  34. ^ "Def Leppard Tour History - 1983 Tour Dates 1". Retrieved 2016-08-03. 
  35. ^ [2][dead link]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Time Warner Cable Arena
Home of the
Charlotte Checkers (AHL)

Succeeded by
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
Charlotte Checkers

Succeeded by
Time Warner Cable Arena
Preceded by
TNA Impact! Zone
Host of Genesis
Succeeded by
TNA Impact! Zone
Preceded by
Expo Square Pavilion
Ultimate Fighting Championship venue
Succeeded by
Casper Events Center

Coordinates: 35°12′18.59″N 80°47′42.37″W / 35.2051639°N 80.7951028°W / 35.2051639; -80.7951028