Greensboro Coliseum

  • 1944: Mayor William H. Sullivan proposes a memorial for Greensboro’s World War II war dead.
  • 1956: After four referendums Greensboro voters agree to a bond issue to fund the coliseum project.
  • 1958: Construction begins at the former Greensboro Fairgrounds on West Lee Street.
  • Oct 29, 1959: Holiday on Ice is the opening show. Final cost of the complex which includes the War Memorial Auditorium, Blue Room, Town Hall Auditorium and coliseum with 7,100 seats is $4.5 million.
  • 1967: Holds its first ACC Tournament.
  • 1968: Bond issue passed to fund an improvement package adding 7,000 seats. Air conditioning is also added.
  • 1970: Adds exhibition building and 8,000 upper-level seats for $5.5 million.
  • 1974: Coliseum hosts the NCAA Finals.
  • 1981: West concourse enclosed for $1 million.
  • 1982-83: Coliseum calendar includes 25 concerts, 15 college basketball games, 22 wrestling matches, 14 Super Flea markets, 19 trade shows, 44 meetings, conventions and seminars and 22 religious events.
  • 1985: Director Jim Oshust resigns after evidence implicates him and two of his lieutenants in the misuse of coliseum funds. An audit finds questionable arrangements with rock concert promoters who receive unauthorized breaks on arena rent, sometimes totaling thousands of dollars per event. It also found questionable personnel practices and a lack of documentation for sales of novelty items, such as T-shirts, that also amounted to thousands of dollars. Oshust received a suspended sentence as a result of a plea arrangement.
  • 1990: Greensboro voters narrowly approve a $225.67 million bond issue toward a $42.17 million project which will expand the capacity of the arena from 15,600 to almost 23,000 seats and double the size of the exhibition facility.
  • 1993: $45.7 million expansion doubled the size of the exhibition facility and boosted arena seating from 15,600 to 23,500.
  • 1996: City Council considers privatizing coliseum by hiring a management company run by Matt Brown, coliseum director, but votes 5-4 against the proposal.
  • 1996-97: The facility’s financial boost to Guilford County is estimated to be more than $48 million. A study said the complex raised income in the county by $13.5 million, increased employment by 905 full-time jobs and generated $500,000 in sales-tax revenues.
  • 2003: War Memorial Commission, a volunteer board appointed by the council to oversee coliseum complex, votes to turn over most of its responsibilities to Matt Brown, who was hired in 1994.
  • 2006: Voters turned down the $36 million renovation of the old auditorium at the Greensboro Coliseum complex.
  • 2007-2008: The facility hosted 854 events.
  • 2008: Voters turn down a $50 million bond issue for renovating War Memorial Auditorium, the adjoining 2,400-seat theater.
  • 2009: 50th anniversary.
  • Jan 2011: The Greensboro Coliseum hosts the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. 110,787 tickets were distributed and 50,805 attended the free FanFest and practice rink sessions.
  • 2011: Added to the complex: Greensboro Aquatic Center, White OakAmphitheaterand ACC Hall of Champions.
  • July 2012: The City Council approved a $539,000 contract with Sutton-Kennerly & Associates for five Greensboro Coliseum renovation projects, including widening the upper concourse and adding concession stands and new restrooms. They also agreed to buy a new $970,000 scoreboard for the coliseum arena. The four-sided Daktronics scoreboard will replace the current one, which was installed in 1997.
  • Dec. 2012: A $1.2 million, 26 feet wide Daktronics scoreboard makes its debut. The steel and aluminum frame scoreboard weighs 27,000 pounds.
  • 2013: First phase of renovations completed include new arena seating and removal of part of the upper level, improving sight-lines for lower level seats.
  • March 2014: Expected completion of $24 million renovation that includes widening of upper concourse to add a total of 17,750 square feet of space; new restrooms, with 113 new fixtures, 13,000 seats in the upper level.
  • Oct. 30, 2014: With a ticket price of $250, Paul McCartney concert is highest-grossing one-day concert in the history of the Greensboro Coliseum.

Check Clip file or digital Historical Archive for 25th anniversary story by Susan Ladd (Oct 28, 1984, page G1) and NewsBank for 50th anniversary story by Don Patterson (March 22, 2009)

Coliseum Facts (Source: Greensboro Coliseum)

The facility
  • Opened 1959
  • Location: 1921 W. Lee St.
  • Nine-venue complex, spanning almost 75 acres; includes Aquatic Center, White OakAmphitheaterand ACC Hall of Fame
  • White Oak Amphitheater cost $946,000
  • The Terrace a 12,500-square-foot event space (beside the Coliseum)
  • Arena: Seating capacity of more than 21,533
  • Special Events Center: 120,000 square feet with a set-up for 4,500 seats
  • Pavilion: 30,000 square feet
  • War Memorial Auditorium: 2,400 seats
  • Annual events: Hosts more than 1,000 events annually.
  • Original cost: $4.5 million, for the War Memorial Auditorium, Town Hall Auditorium, Blue Room and Greensboro Coliseum (7,100 seats)
  • Visitors in 50 years: 57 million
  • Basketball: Site of 21 ACC men’s basketball tournaments and all ACC women’s tournaments since 2000; 12 NCAA men’s basketball tournament events, including the 1974 Final Four; game site for Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association.
Other sports:
  • Several hockey franchises, including the Carolina Hurricanes for their first two seasons in the state; indoor football; tennis; boxing; track and field; amateur and professional wrestling; gymnastics.
Family events:
  • Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, Disney ice and stage shows, Sesame Street
Famous faces:
  • Elvis Presley, Richard Nixon, Barack Obama, Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, Michael Jordan, Ray Charles, James Brown, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Tom Jones, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen.

Compiled by Diane Lamb News & Record Researcher
Source: News & Record archive

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