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El Paso County Coliseum is a 6,500-seat multi-purpose arena located in El Paso, Texas. It opened on May 21, 1942 and was built originally to support a rodeo and livestock show, but later expanded to cater other types of events. A variety of events that have been held at the Coliseum have included high school graduations, basketball,[1] boxing,[2] circus,[3] concerts,[4][5] dog shows,[6] flower shows,[7] Ice capades,[8] roller derby,[9] and more. In addition to events, the Coliseum was also used to temporarily house prisoners of war, braceros and the Texas State Guard.

El Paso County Coliseum
Location 4100 East Paisano Street
El Paso, Texas
Owner El Paso Sports Commission
Operator El Paso Sports Commission
Capacity 6,500
Surface Multi-surface
Construction
Broke ground 1939
Opened May 21, 1942
Renovated 2004
Construction cost $321,000; $9.5 million (renovation)
Tenants
El Paso Raiders (SWHL) (1975–1976)
El Paso Buzzards (WPHL/CHL) (1996–2003)
El Paso Rumble (Intense) (2004)
El Paso Rhinos (WSHL) (2006–present)
El Paso Generals (IFL) (2009)
UTEP Miners (ACHA) (2015–present)
El Paso Coyotes (MASL) (2016–present)

HistoryEdit

The El Paso County Coliseum was originally built to host rodeo events in the city of El Paso.[10][11] The original plan for the building, which was backed by El Paso County, and could be supported by a Public Works Administration (PWA) grant, estimated that it would cost $100,000.[12] The final cost for the building was $321,000.[13] The building's architect was Percy McGhee.[14] At first it was called the "El Paso County Live Stock & Agricultural Exhibition Building," or referred to as the "Livestock Exposition Building."[10][15][16] It is located in South El Paso, near Washington Park.[17] When it was dedicated, it was the largest coliseum between Los Angeles, Fort Worth and Denver.[18] Behind the main coliseum, which was equipped with an air-cooling system, are several livestock buildings.[18]

The building was dedicated on May 21, 1942 in a party that drew local farmers and El Paso business people together for a barbecue dinner that also celebrated "Cotton Week."[15][19] The dedication barbecue dinner cost $1 per person.[13] The event featured actors playing characters such as "King Cotton," Uncle Sam and "Miss America" who would be escorted by military color guard from Fort Bliss.[18] The band from Bowie High School was on hand to play while attendees ate.[20] The dedication event saw around 5000 attendees and the El Paso Times called it "an epoch in local history."[20] Karl O. Wyler served as master of ceremonies.[20]

The first event the Coliseum hosted was the El Paso Sheriff's Posse Rodeo in June 1942.[10] In 1943, approval was received from Major C.L. Whitmarsh to house Italian prisoners of war inside the Coliseum building.[21] The prisoners were expected to pick cotton.[21] Prisoners were moved to the Coliseum in September 1943, some of them coming from a concentration camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico.[22] Concerned El Pasoans donated games and instruments to the prisoners for recreational purposes.[23][24] The Italian prisoners remained in the Coliseum until around March 1944.[25] The Texas State Guard used the Coliseum as temporary headquarters in 1946.[26] The Coliseum was again used to house people in 1951, this time temporarily sheltering braceros.[27]

In 1944, El Paso City Council proposed additional civic programs for the Coliseum as the building had not been making a profit.[28] Plans to open up the Coliseum to sporting events such as boxing and wrestling was proposed in 1945.[29] New speakers were installed for free by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1946.[30]

Around 1996, the Coliseum began to experience roofing issues due to wind damage.[31] In 2000, discussions about creating a new coliseum were ongoing.[32] In 2001, renovations on the Coliseum began which included adding more restrooms, access for people with disabilities and a meeting room.[33] Urban Associates began additional renovations in January 2003 that was projected to cost $6.7 million and include new heating and cooling, improved seating, new concession stands, new roofing and more.[31] Discussions about privatization of the Coliseum were taking place in 2003.[34] In September 2003, supervision of the Coliseum was given to El Paso Sports Commission Inc., for a five year contract.[35]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Coliseum Site of Star Cage Tilt August 7". El Paso Times. 16 July 1947. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  2. ^ Mott, Grenville (2 February 1947). "Beyond the Pail". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "Performing Arts". El Paso Times. 23 February 2008. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "La Perla to be Featured in College Chicana Night". El Paso Herald-Post. 25 January 1975. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  5. ^ "Ray Charles to Appear in Coliseum". El Paso Times. 14 January 1960. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ "Dog Show Supervisor Arrives Here". El Paso Times. 1 March 1950. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  7. ^ "Flower Show Poster Contest Announced". El Paso Times. 24 January 1947. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via newspapers.com.
  8. ^ "Cowboy Skating Act Headlines Coliseum Ice Vanities Show". El Paso Times. 7 October 1946. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Roller Derby, Fast and Rough, Opens Coliseum Series Tonight". El Paso Times. 6 March 1947. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ a b c Cervantes, Angel (17 May 2017). "El Paso County Coliseum Celebrates 75th Anniversary". Fusion Magazine. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  11. ^ "Building Approved for Kids Rodeo". El Paso Herald-Post. 25 February 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  12. ^ "County Will Back Building". El Paso Herald-Post. 28 June 1939. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  13. ^ a b "1500 Reservations Are Made for Stock Building Dinner". El Paso Times. 14 May 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  14. ^ "Court, McGhee Will Discuss 'Extra' Costs". El Paso Times. 10 June 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  15. ^ a b "Valley Farmers Will Be Guests at Barbecue in El Paso Exposition Building". El Paso Times. 25 April 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  16. ^ "EP Coliseum to be Called EP Coliseum". El Paso Times. 8 July 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  17. ^ "Livestock Building is Half Completed". El Paso Herald-Post. 9 February 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  18. ^ a b c "El Pasoans Will Gather Tonight to Dedicate New $321,000 LIvestock Exposition Building". El Paso Times. 21 May 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  19. ^ Conner, B.U.L. (1 May 1942). "The Fence". El Paso Herald-Post. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  20. ^ a b c Haworth, Bill (22 May 1942). "Exposition Structure Dedicated". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com. and "Thousands See New Exposition". El Paso Times. 22 May 1942. p. 2. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  21. ^ a b "War Prisoner Camp in EP is Approved". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  22. ^ "Coliseum Home Ready Today for Italians". El Paso Times. 21 September 1943. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  23. ^ "Times Appeal Brings Games for Italians". El Paso Times. 25 September 1943. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  24. ^ "El Pasoans Asked to Donate Games to Italian Prisoners". El Paso Times. 24 September 1943. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com. and "El Pasoans Asked to Donate Games to Italian Prisoners". El Paso Times. 24 September 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  25. ^ "Italians Gone, EP Coliseum Put in Order". El Paso Times. 10 March 1944. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  26. ^ "Guard Receives Armory Site". El Paso Times. 24 May 1946. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  27. ^ "Officials Prepare to Open Bracero Center in Chihuahua". El Paso Herald-Post. 10 September 1951. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  28. ^ "EP Coliseum Proposed as Civic Site". El Paso Times. 3 August 1944. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  29. ^ "Officials Desire to Move Athletic Shows to Coliseum". El Paso Times. 5 September 1945. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  30. ^ "Coliseum to Get Four More Loud Speakers". El Paso Herald-Post. 12 April 1946. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  31. ^ a b Crowder, David (30 May 2003). "Coliseum's Roof Problems Return". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com. and "Coliseum". El Paso Times. 30 May 2003. p. 2A. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  32. ^ "Unite Coliseum Plans". El Paso Times. 21 January 2000. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  33. ^ Cruz, Laura (17 January 2001). "Coliseum Makeover Begins to Show". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  34. ^ "Privatization Welcome". El Paso Times. 30 July 2003. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.
  35. ^ Crowder, David (16 September 2003). "Coliseum Plan Now Up to Nonprofit". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via Newspapers.com.

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