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Richfield Coliseum

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Title: Richfield Coliseum  
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Subject: Rocky, Cleveland Cavaliers, Chuck Wepner, Azumah Nelson, Major Indoor Soccer League (1978–92), Cuyahoga Valley National Park, James Tillis, Use Your Illusion Tour, Quicken Loans Arena, Oracle Arena
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Richfield Coliseum

Coliseum at Richfield
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Aerial view of the Coliseum and neighboring farms in 1975
Former names The Coliseum
Location 2923 Streetsboro Road
Richfield, Ohio 44286
Coordinates

41°14′43″N 81°35′38″W / 41.24528°N 81.59389°W / 41.24528; -81.59389Coordinates: 41°14′43″N 81°35′38″W / 41.24528°N 81.59389°W / 41.24528; -81.59389

Broke ground November 1972
Opened October 26, 1974[1]
Closed September 1, 1994[1]
Demolished May 21, 1999
Owner George and Gordon Gund
Operator George and Gordon Gund
Construction cost $36 million[1]
($172 million in 2014 dollars[2])
Architect George E. Ross Architects, Inc.[3]
Capacity Basketball: 20,273
Ice hockey: 18,544
Tenants
Cleveland Barons (NHL) (1976–1978)
Cleveland Crusaders (WHA) (1974–1976)
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) (1974–1994)
Cleveland Force (MISL) (1978–1992)
Cleveland Lumberjacks (IHL) (1992–1994)
Cleveland Thunderbolts (AFL) (1992–1994)

The Coliseum at Richfield (also known as Richfield Coliseum) was an arena located in Richfield Township in Summit County, Ohio, roughly halfway between Cleveland and Akron. It was home to the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, WHA's Cleveland Crusaders, NHL's Cleveland Barons, MISL's Cleveland Force, MISL, & NPSL's Cleveland Crunch, the IHL's Cleveland Lumberjacks, and the AFL's Cleveland Thunderbolts. It hosted the 1981 NBA All-Star Game and WWF's Survivor Series 1987, Survivor Series 1988, and Survivor Series 1992.

It also hosted concerts, with its first event being a concert by Frank Sinatra and the last being a concert by Roger Daltrey in 1994, which was also the last official event at the arena. The first rock concert at the Richfield Coliseum was Stevie Wonder in October 1974.[4] It was also the site of the March 24, 1975 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner which in part inspired the movie Rocky.[5] In a 2012 interview with ESPN's Bill Simmons, basketball great Larry Bird said that it was his favorite arena to play in. The Coliseum was the site of Bird's final game in the NBA.

Opening

The arena, which opened in 1974, replaced the then-decrepit Cleveland Arena, which had 12,500+ boxing capacity, 10,000+ otherwise. The new arena seated about 20,000 for basketball and 18,500 for hockey, and was one of the first indoor arenas to contain luxury boxes. Nick Mileti was the driving force behind the Coliseum's construction, believing that its location in northern Summit County south of Cleveland near the confluence of the Ohio Turnpike and Interstates 77 and 271 was ideally suited given the growth of urban sprawl. The Coliseum was built in Richfield to draw fans from both of Northeast Ohio's major cities, as nearly 5 million Ohioans lived within less than an hour's drive (in good weather) from the Coliseum. While the arena's location hindered attendance somewhat, nevertheless, the Cavaliers' average attendance was over 18,000 per game each of the last 2 seasons at the Coliseum.

Attendance hindrances

Though a large arena at the time of construction, it had only one concourse for both levels, which became crowded during games at which the attendance was anywhere close to capacity. The Coliseum's real drawback was that the luxury suites, which generate much revenue, were at the uppermost level and as such, were the worst seats in the house. Once plans for Gund Arena (now Quicken Loans Arena) in downtown Cleveland were announced in 1991, where the suites were much closer to the playing area, the Coliseum became economically obsolete.

Another hindrance to attendance was the arena's location at the intersection of Interstate 271 and Ohio State Route 303, which was a rural, two-lane highway outside of Richfield. Traffic became an issue with every Coliseum event, especially with lake-effect snow from Lake Erie providing another obstacle to drivers during the winter months.

Many times, fans would be late to sold-out events due to traffic jams created up and down Interstate 271, which was already a very heavily traveled Interstate during Cleveland's rush hours from 3-7:00 pm. As there was really only one true entrance to the arena (directly at the 271/303 interchange), traffic would back up for several miles in all directions for hours whenever an event was even close to a sell out.

Demolition and environmental remediation

After lying vacant for five years, the arena was torn down in 1999, between March 30[6] and May 21,[7] and the arena and surrounding parking areas were allowed to be returned to woodland as part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, now Cuyahoga Valley National Park.[8] Two years later it was noted that the site appeared to have no trace of the former building,[9] although a widened section of Route 303 reveals its location.

The site is now a grassy meadow and has become an important area for wildlife. Birds such as the Eastern meadowlark, bobolink, and various sparrows now inhabit the area. This has caused the site to become popular with local birders.[10][11] Other birds that are frequently seen are American goldfinch, red-winged blackbird, turkey vulture (buzzard), red-tailed hawk, and American kestrel.

References

External links

  • Details of the demolition at Independence Excavating's website
  • Arenas by Munsey & Suppes
Events and tenants
Preceded by
Cleveland Arena
Home of the
Cleveland Cavaliers

1974 – 1994
Succeeded by
Gund Arena/Quicken Loans Arena
Preceded by
Oakland Coliseum Arena
(Team was known as California Golden Seals)
Home of the
Cleveland Barons

1976 – 1979
Succeeded by
Met Center
(Team merged with Minnesota North Stars)
Preceded by
Capital Centre
Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

1981
Succeeded by
Brendan Byrne Arena
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