The Big E Coliseum

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Eastern States Coliseum
The Big E Coliseum
Location West Springfield, Massachusetts
Coordinates Coordinates: 42°05′29″N 72°37′00″W / 42.09125°N 72.61655°W / 42.09125; -72.61655
Owner City Of West Springfield
Operator Eastern States Exposition
Capacity 6,000
Surface dirt
Construction
Broke ground 1916
Opened 1916
Tenants
Springfield Indians (CAHL/AHL) (1926–1932, 1935–1972)
New England Whalers (WHA) (1974–1975)
Massachusetts Twisters (AISL/NISL) (2002–2009)

The Eastern States Coliseum, better known as the Big E Coliseum, is a 5,900-seat multi-purpose arena in West Springfield, Massachusetts.

History[edit]

The Big E Coliseum was built in 1916. 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.[1] 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.[2] It was for many years the largest capacity rink in western Massachusetts, and was the home arena of several local high school hockey teams as well as a prominent venue for regional and state high school tournaments.[3]

Today, though the ice plant has been dismantled and hockey games are no longer played there,[4] the arena is a venue for The Big E, and hosts Shriner circuses, equestrian shows and other local events.[5] 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,[6] and has been a venue for rodeos.[7]

Indians and The Coliseum[edit]

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.

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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brown, Garry (May 9, 2009). "Hartford Whalers found their way to Eastern States Coliseum". Springfield Union-News (Larry McDermott). Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  2. ^ "Birthday Edition Of Ice Capades Hailed By Critics". Hartford Courant (Hartford, CT). November 1, 1959. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  3. ^ Porter, Matt (March 13, 2008). "Cheers fade, but glory endures". Boston Globe. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  4. ^ Donahue, Chris (April 1, 1991). "Hockey mecca's demise leaves high schools scrambling". USA Today (Gannett Communications). Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  5. ^ Eastern States Exhibition website
  6. ^ "BigE Draft Horse Show". The Big E. Eastern States Exhibition. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  7. ^ Blowen, Michael (March 27, 1993). "Rodeo king". Boston Globe (William Taylor). Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
Preceded by
Boston Arena
Home of the
New England Whalers

1973 – 1975
Succeeded by
Hartford Civic Center