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El Paso County Coliseum is a multi-purpose arena located in El Paso, Texas. It opened on May 21, 1942[4] 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 hockey, high school graduations, basketball,[5] boxing,[6] circus,[7] concerts,[8][9] dog shows,[10] flower shows,[11] Ice capades,[12] roller derby,[13] wrestling[14] 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
El Paso County Coliseum entrance.
El Paso County Coliseum entrance.
Location4100 East Paisano Street
El Paso, Texas
OwnerEl Paso Sports Commission
OperatorEl Paso Sports Commission
Capacity5,200 seated. Total in dispute - either 6,500 or 11,000 [1][2]
Broke ground1939
OpenedMay 21, 1942[3]
Construction cost$321,000; $9.5 million (renovation)
El Paso Raiders (SWHL) (1975–1976)
El Paso Buzzards (WPHL/CHL) (1996–2003)
El Paso Rumble (Intense) (2004)
El Paso Generals (IFL) (2009)
El Paso Coyotes (MASL) (2016–present)
County Events Center
El Paso Rhinos (WSHL) (2006–present)
UTEP Miners (ACHA) (2015–present)



Texas Historical Commission marker at the El Paso County Coliseum.
El Paso County Events Center hosting an El Paso Rhinos game on March 8 2019.

The El Paso County Coliseum was originally built to host rodeo events in the city of El Paso.[15][16] 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.[17] The final cost for the building was $321,000.[18] The building's architect was Percy McGhee.[19] At first it was called the "El Paso County Live Stock & Agricultural Exhibition Building," or referred to as the "Livestock Exposition Building."[15][20][21] It is located in South El Paso, near Washington Park.[22] When it was dedicated, it was the largest coliseum between Los Angeles, Fort Worth and Denver.[23] Behind the main coliseum, which was equipped with an air-cooling system, are several livestock buildings.[23]

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."[20][24] The dedication barbecue dinner cost $1 per person.[18] 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.[23] The band from Bowie High School was on hand to play while attendees ate.[25] The dedication event saw around 5000 attendees and the El Paso Times called it "an epoch in local history."[25] Karl O. Wyler served as master of ceremonies.[25]

The first event the Coliseum hosted was the El Paso Sheriff's Posse Rodeo in June 1942.[15] In 1943, approval was received from Major C.L. Whitmarsh to house Italian prisoners of war inside the Coliseum building.[26] The prisoners were expected to pick cotton.[26] Prisoners were moved to the Coliseum in September 1943, some of them coming from a concentration camp in Lordsburg, New Mexico.[27] Concerned El Pasoans donated games and instruments to the prisoners for recreational purposes.[28][29] The Italian prisoners remained in the Coliseum until around March 1944.[30] The Texas State Guard used the Coliseum as temporary headquarters in 1946.[31] The Coliseum was again used to house people in 1951, this time temporarily sheltering braceros.[32]

In 1944, El Paso City Council proposed additional civic programs for the Coliseum as the building had not been making a profit.[33] Plans to open up the Coliseum to sporting events such as boxing and wrestling was proposed in 1945.[34] New speakers were installed for free by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1946.[35]

On June 4, 1980, a concert by Alice Cooper was recorded by ABC Radio as part of their SuperGroups In Concert series

Around 1996, the Coliseum began to experience roofing issues due to wind damage.[36] In 2000, discussions about creating a new coliseum were ongoing.[37] In 2001, renovations on the Coliseum began which included adding more restrooms, access for people with disabilities and a meeting room.[38] 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.[36] Discussions about privatization of the Coliseum were taking place in 2003.[39] In September 2003, supervision of the Coliseum was given to El Paso Sports Commission Inc., for a five year contract.[40]

Disputed CapacityEdit

February 11, 2019, President Donald J. Trump came to visit El Paso as a follow up to his State of the Union address the week before. The actual number attended is in conflict and authorative information is contradictory. El Paso Times reports that

Enrique D Aguilar, fire public information officer, said no special permission was given by the Fire Department, and the Coliseum had about 6,500 people in it during the president's rally — at capacity, but well within its standard allowance. [41]

A United States Department of Transportation case study of case study of PSEs in the El Paso metropolitan area dated August 2008 classifies the Coliseum as a "specially designed facility with event days generating crowds of more than 10,000 people." It states that the Coliseum "is a 5,250-seat multi-purpose arena in El Paso. The Coliseum opened in 1942 and can be adapted to seat up to 11,000 for concerts."[42]


  1. ^ Times Staff Report (11 February 2019). "Fact check: Trump says 10,000 at El Paso County Coliseum rally; Fire Department says not true". El Paso Times.
  3. ^ Trish Long (20 May 2017). "1942 saw dedication of the County Coliseum". El Paso Times.
  4. ^ Trish Long (20 May 2017). "1942 saw dedication of the County Coliseum". El Paso Times.
  5. ^ "Coliseum Site of Star Cage Tilt August 7". El Paso Times. 16 July 1947. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  6. ^ Mott, Grenville (2 February 1947). "Beyond the Pail". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  7. ^ "Performing Arts". El Paso Times. 23 February 2008. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  8. ^ "La Perla to be Featured in College Chicana Night". El Paso Herald-Post. 25 January 1975. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  9. ^ "Ray Charles to Appear in Coliseum". El Paso Times. 14 January 1960. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  10. ^ "Dog Show Supervisor Arrives Here". El Paso Times. 1 March 1950. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  11. ^ "Flower Show Poster Contest Announced". El Paso Times. 24 January 1947. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  12. ^ "Cowboy Skating Act Headlines Coliseum Ice Vanities Show". El Paso Times. 7 October 1946. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  13. ^ "Roller Derby, Fast and Rough, Opens Coliseum Series Tonight". El Paso Times. 6 March 1947. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  14. ^ "2019 Texas USA State OPEN Wrestling Championships". Pitbull Wrestling. Retrieved 2019-03-11.
  15. ^ a b c Cervantes, Angel (17 May 2017). "El Paso County Coliseum Celebrates 75th Anniversary". Fusion Magazine. Retrieved 2018-08-19.
  16. ^ "Building Approved for Kids Rodeo". El Paso Herald-Post. 25 February 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  17. ^ "County Will Back Building". El Paso Herald-Post. 28 June 1939. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  18. ^ a b "1500 Reservations Are Made for Stock Building Dinner". El Paso Times. 14 May 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  19. ^ "Court, McGhee Will Discuss 'Extra' Costs". El Paso Times. 10 June 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  20. ^ 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
  21. ^ "EP Coliseum to be Called EP Coliseum". El Paso Times. 8 July 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  22. ^ "Livestock Building is Half Completed". El Paso Herald-Post. 9 February 1942. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  23. ^ 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
  24. ^ Conner, B.U.L. (1 May 1942). "The Fence". El Paso Herald-Post. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  25. ^ a b c Haworth, Bill (22 May 1942). "Exposition Structure Dedicated". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via and "Thousands See New Exposition". El Paso Times. 22 May 1942. p. 2. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  26. ^ a b "War Prisoner Camp in EP is Approved". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  27. ^ "Coliseum Home Ready Today for Italians". El Paso Times. 21 September 1943. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  28. ^ "Times Appeal Brings Games for Italians". El Paso Times. 25 September 1943. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  29. ^ "El Pasoans Asked to Donate Games to Italian Prisoners". El Paso Times. 24 September 1943. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via and "El Pasoans Asked to Donate Games to Italian Prisoners". El Paso Times. 24 September 1943. p. 3. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  30. ^ "Italians Gone, EP Coliseum Put in Order". El Paso Times. 10 March 1944. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  31. ^ "Guard Receives Armory Site". El Paso Times. 24 May 1946. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  32. ^ "Officials Prepare to Open Bracero Center in Chihuahua". El Paso Herald-Post. 10 September 1951. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  33. ^ "EP Coliseum Proposed as Civic Site". El Paso Times. 3 August 1944. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  34. ^ "Officials Desire to Move Athletic Shows to Coliseum". El Paso Times. 5 September 1945. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  35. ^ "Coliseum to Get Four More Loud Speakers". El Paso Herald-Post. 12 April 1946. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  36. ^ a b Crowder, David (30 May 2003). "Coliseum's Roof Problems Return". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via and "Coliseum". El Paso Times. 30 May 2003. p. 2A. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  37. ^ "Unite Coliseum Plans". El Paso Times. 21 January 2000. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  38. ^ Cruz, Laura (17 January 2001). "Coliseum Makeover Begins to Show". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  39. ^ "Privatization Welcome". El Paso Times. 30 July 2003. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  40. ^ Crowder, David (16 September 2003). "Coliseum Plan Now Up to Nonprofit". El Paso Times. Retrieved 2018-08-19 – via
  41. ^ Times Staff Report (11 February 2019). "Fact check: Trump says 10,000 at El Paso County Colliseum rally; Fire Department says not true". El Paso Times.
  42. ^ Skolnik J, Chami R, Walker M (August 2008). Planned Special Events – Economic Role and Congestion Effects (Report). U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. pp. 51, 53. FHWA-HOP-08-022. Retrieved February 16, 2019.

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