Mid-South Coliseum is an indoor arena in Memphis, Tennessee. The facility was opened in 1963, and became known for its hosting of concerts and professional wrestling events. The Coliseum closed in 2006. In the late 2010s, efforts emerged to help preserve and refurbish the arena as part of a larger redevelopment of the surrounding area.
|Location||996 Early Maxwell Blvd, Memphis, Tennessee, 38104|
|Architect||Merrill G. Ehrman|
(Furbringer and Ehrman)
Robert Lee Hall
(Robert Lee Hall & Associates)
|Memphis Tigers (NCAA) (1963–1991)|
Memphis Wings (CPHL) (1964–1967)
Memphis South Stars (CPHL) (1967–1969)
Memphis Pros/Tams/Sounds (ABA) (1970–1975)
Memphis Rogues (NASL) (1979–1980)
Memphis Rockers (WBL) (1990–1991)
Memphis HotShots (GBA) (1991–1992)
Memphis RiverKings (CHL) (1992–2000)
|NRHP reference No.||00001429|
|Added to NRHP||December 6, 2000|
From its construction in 1963, the Coliseum was the very first racially integrated facility in Memphis.
The arena was one of the few stops on The Beatles' final American tour in 1966. The group played two concerts there on August 19, 1966; in the wake of protests and boycotts of the band over John Lennon's controversial "more popular than Jesus" remarks, Memphis city council called for the cancellation of the concerts for safety reasons. The event still went on, although they were met by protests by the Ku Klux Klan, an anonymous assassination threat against "one or all" of the band's members, and an audience member exploding a firecracker on-stage during one of the performances (which was initially believed to be a gunshot).
Elvis Presley also performed at the arena. His first show was on March 16, 1974, which was his first Memphis concert since 1961. His March 20 performance was recorded for a concert album, Elvis Recorded Live on Stage in Memphis.
Canadian singer Celine Dion performed a two-night stand at the arena on March 14 and 15, 1997 as part of her Falling Into You Around the World Tour, which was also filmed for the concert video Live in Memphis.
The Mid-South Coliseum was also well known in professional wrestling as the home base for the United States Wrestling Association and its predecessors; Jerry Lawler headlined hundreds of shows at the facility. It held weekly wrestling shows that regularly drew over 1000 people from 1970 to 1991. Among many notable events, Lawler faced Terry Funk in an "empty arena fight" at the Coliseum in 1981. On April 5, 1982, Lawler piledrove comedian Andy Kaufman twice, ending a match between the two in disqualification. Kaufman was taken away in an ambulance. On April 27, 1987, Austin Idol defeated Lawler in a steel cage match, causing the audience to riot. World Championship Wrestling also held several events at the Coliseum over the course of 1996 through 2000.
The Mid-South Coliseum served as the home of the original Central Hockey League team, the Memphis Wings (later the Memphis South Stars) from 1964 through 1969. To accommodate hockey, piping was installed beneath the Coliseum's floor surface. The ice was often left intact between games, allowing Memphis residents to partake in public skating.
In 1992, the Memphis RiverKings of the newly re-formed Central Hockey League brought a successful return of professional hockey to the Mid-South Coliseum, drawing good crowds from 1992–2000. Trying political circumstances prevented much-needed updates from being made to the Coliseum, resulting in the RiverKings moving to the new DeSoto Civic Center, now Landers Center, in Southaven, Mississippi in 2000.
The Memphis Rogues played the 1979–80 season of NASL indoor soccer at the Coliseum. The Rogues won the Western Division and went all the way to the finals, winning Game 1 of the series, 5–4 at home in front of 9,081 fans before losing Game 2 and the mini-game tie breaker to the Tampa Bay Rowdies at the Bayfront Center.
The Coliseum was home to the American Basketball Association's Memphis Pros. After the New Orleans Buccaneers moved upriver to Memphis in 1971, the Memphis Pros struggled in their first season. The team was then purchased by baseball Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley, who renamed them the Tams and briefly hired Kentucky coach Adolph Rupp as team President. After Finley sold the team, the renamed Sounds also struggled in 1974–75. The franchise left Memphis for Baltimore in 1975, becoming the Baltimore Claws and folded before playing a regular season game.
As an ABA arena the Coliseum hosted the Indiana Pacers during the 1971 Western Division Semifinals and the Kentucky Colonels during the 1975 Eastern Division Finals; the Pacers went on to win the 1971 ABA Championship and the Colonels went on to win the 1975 ABA Championship.
It was home to the Memphis Tigers basketball team before the Pyramid opened in 1991 and the Memphis RiverKings before the DeSoto Civic Center opened in 2000. The Coliseum also hosted five Metro Conference men's basketball tournaments.
The venue closed at the end of 2006, when Memphis and Shelby County Governments refused the request from the Mid-South Coliseum Board to pay its operating losses, which were projected to be $1 million a year. The Coliseum also needed renovations to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In 2016, an assessment found that a renovation and restoration of the Coliseum (including ADA compliance) would cost around $23.8 million. In 2018, a group known as the Coliseum Coalition was formed to pursue the preservation of the facility as part of redevelopment of the Memphis Fairgrounds into a youth sports complex. In 2018, a plan was proposed to use funding from the designation of the Fairgrounds as a tourism development zone (TDZ) to "achieve the reactivation, adaptive reuse, or redevelopment of the Mid-South Coliseum". The Coliseum was not included in the plan approved the state, but it was suggested that the development could help spur private investment. Coalition member Marvin Stockwell stated that the building was still "in great shape".
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- Wednesday, Richard J. Alley |; July 09; 2014. "Bleak House: What's going on with the Mid-South Coliseum". High Ground. Retrieved 2020-05-01.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Watts, Micaela A. (27 April 2019). "Coalition is banking on civic pride to save Memphis' Mid-South Coliseum". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
- Sells, Toby (20 November 2018). "Group: 'Coliseum Is Officially Saved'". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
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- The Mid-South Coliseum The Mid-South Coliseum]