Hampton Coliseum
1000 Coliseum Drive
Hampton, VA 23666-4233


05/31/04 05/31/04
  1976 1977  
05/31/04 05/31/04 05/31/04  

Coliseum History

(This information shamelessly pilfered from http://www.hamptoncoliseum.org/box_office_information.html - 05/31/04.)

Constructon Of The Coliseum


In 1970, the area surrounding the Hampton Coliseum wasn't much more than a vast stretch of farmland.
The construction of the Coliseum started an explosion of retail development. Today, the retail sector surrounding the Coliseum boasts numerous free-standing superstores, four strip malls and the Peninsula's largest shopping center. There are over 1,500 hotel rooms in the area, up from 80 in 1970.
The contract for construction of the Hampton Coliseum was awarded by City Council to general contractors, McDevitt and Street Co., of Charlotte, North Carolina, on April 24, 1968. The base contract was for $6,233,000.00, about a million dollars more than had been anticipated through the cost projections at the time the bids were called. Additional items approved by Council brought the total contract for McDevitt and Street to $6,528,000.00.
Original cost estimates had placed the cost of the Coliseum at $4.5 million, which was increased to $5.1 million in July 1967, plus an additional $1.4 million for the surrounding ground and park area. The estimated final cost averaged $8.5 million to $9 million.
Actual construction was begun with a traditional
ground breaking ceremony May 24, 1968, one month after the contact was awarded, with Mayor Ann H. Kilgore driving a candy-stripped piling into the ground. Vice Mayor Tom G. Waters and Councilman Charles A. Wornom assisted. The site clearing had begun much earlier, on March 21, 1967, and the site was ready for the first phases of construction by the time the piling was driven.
Testing of the massive structure's approximately 1,200 wood and concrete pilings was completed prior to June 21, 1968, and, at that point, work was progressing according to, if not ahead of, schedule.
Approximately 30 sub-contractors were involved in the construction. McDevitt and Street Co. poured on the site 96 exterior
triangular - shaped concrete wall panels, each weighing approximately 26 tons. Each panel was pelted with stones to give a speckled appearance. Also cast on the site by the general contractor were 700 concrete bleacher sections, weighing from one to three tons each.
In all, 17,000 cubic yards of concrete were used for the structure, including 300 cubic yards for the arena floor alone. The floor contains nearly 10 miles of coolant coil for freezing the ice rink. The floor of the arena is almost the size of a football field.
On November 26, 1968, City Manager C. E. Johnson announced construction was on schedule and approximately $2 million already had been paid the contractor, excluding cost of work accomplished by city crews. The Coliseum was reported 25 per cent completed in
mid-December 1968, and the halfway point was reached with the installation of the roof on July 1, 1969.
There are 500 tons of structural steel in the roof, plus 250 tons of metal decking and approximately 50 tons of roofing material with a vinyl membrane covering. The complete cable-suspended roof is held by 48 two-inch bridge cables. Each cable was tested and stressed prior to installation at 200 tons.
Lighting was installed by E. C. Ernst electrical contractors on a bid of $48,661.00, not including more than $50,000.00 worth of light poles and walkway standards purchased by the city. The exterior lighting, in addition to 24 special walkway lights illuminating the 166,000 square feet of exposed aggregate concrete walks and promenades, consists of five 125-foot-high aluminum poles each holding from four to twelve lights.
The lights themselves, 47 in all, are 1,000 watt metallic vapor lights and are serviced by a portable cable elevator.
Interior lighting, also by E. C. Ernst, consists of 1,909 light fixtures of all types plus an additional 52 fixtures under water in the pool and lake.
There are a total of 256 fixtures in the arena proper with a total output of 256,000 watts for such activities as basketball, hockey and stage events with an additional 48,000 watts of lighting for seating and emergency purposes.

Memorable Moments

In its glittering reign as the Virginia Peninsula's premier venue, the Coliseum has hosted
Whitney Houston and Gladys Knight, Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, David Sanborn and Stevie Wonder, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd, Prince and Madonna, Sweetpea Whitaker and Muhammad Ali, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ... the elite of every entertainment genre have come to this award winning facility because of the technical features and staff expertise that have earned Performance Magazine's coveted Arena Of The Year recognition ... twice. From the opening night, when Jack Benny christened the hall on January 31, 1970, thousands of acts, events, shows and showcases have lit up the Coliseum.

The Rolling Stones
The greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world liked the building enough to play here three times. The serpentine Mick Jagger and his grim-reaper guitarist Keith Richards unleashed thundering sets at Hampton in 1975, 1978 and 1981. The band's December 18, 1981, concert chiseled the Coliseum's name in the annals of rock history. A performance of "Let's Spend The Night Together," recorded at Hampton was included on the Stones' "Still Life" record, a live album culled from the 1981 tour. The concert was also broadcast live via cable to some 750,000 fans.

Elvis Presley
The king paid his third and final visit to the Coliseum on July 31 and August 1, 1976. The man whose voice - and pelvis - changed American Culture also played the building on April 9, 1972, and March 11, 1974. The documentary "Elvis On Tour" was filmed in the building on his 1972 concert date. Sadly, Elvis passed away on August 16, 1977, but the legend lives on, and his performances are commemorated on a bronze plaque located on the south concourse level of the Coliseum.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
The Boss stormed into Hampton at the absolute peak of his career. His album "Born In The U.S.A." was a smash hit - commercially and critically. America had finally caught up with Springsteen, then the country's rock 'n' roll poet laureate. His concerts on January 4 & 5, 1985, took on the spirit of a victory celebration. He told stories. He told jokes. And he rocked the crowd full-throttle with big-hearted, working class anthems.

The Grateful Dead
Deadheads hold the Hampton Coliseum in high regard. And so did the Dead. The San Francisco band played here 11 times, for a total of 21 individual performances, first on May 4, 1979, and for the
last time on March 6, 1992. For many, the most memorable Dead show in "Spaceship Hampton" was the October 8 & 9, 1989, "Formerly the Warlocks" concert, when the band dusted off "Dark Star" for a gleeful legion of fans.

Vermont-based group Phish has played the Hampton Coliseum every autumn since their first appearance in December, 1995. In fact, guitarist Trey Anastasio announced at one show that it was his favorite room to play. Phish's shows at Hampton are memorable for such wackiness as a cover of Will Smith's "Getting' Jiggy With It" with a vacuum cleaner solo by drummer Jon Fishman; however, it is their sublime, lengthy, genre-defying improvisations that have made their Coliseum appearances, especially November 22, 1997, so legendary among their fans. In November 20-21, 1998, Phish released a 6-CD live album, "Hampton Comes Alive", featuring both shows at the Coliseum in their entirety.

The KISS Reunion Tour's firey rock and roll circus roared in Hampton on October 4, 1996. A capacity crowd watched the group stalk across the stage in giant platform shoes and unleash plenty of hulking guitar riffs and pyrotechnics. Bass player Gene Simmons swooped through the air and drooled blood. Ace Frehley shot fireballs from his guitar. And fans - both old and new - shouted along to favorites, including "Strutter" and "Cold Gin."

Today, the Irish megagroup U2 mostly plays huge outdoor stadiums. But just a few years back, on March 7, 1992, the band was still prowling around arenas like Hampton. For this show, admirers road-tripped to Hampton from as far away as Philadelphia. And for their trouble, they were treated to an impassioned, politically flavored evening.

Tina Turner
Having pulled off an amazing career resurrection, the fiery Turner romped through nearly two hours of hits at the Coliseum on November 7, 1987. Her set spanned Soul, Funk, Rock and Gospel. The singer delivered it all with white-hot intensity. Equally as incredible was her November 22, 1985, performance, where, for one of her encores, she nailed a hard-rocking song that could have been written for her: the ZZ Top hit "Legs."

The Georgia rockers have played the Coliseum several times, most recently on October 9, 1995. On that night, thousands of fans turned out to witness a performance by a band that has achieved enormous popularity without a hint of compromise.

Garth Brooks
The electrifying performances of Garth Brooks sold out on October 27, 28 & 29, 1993. The first of the three shows sold out in 39 minutes, a record for the Coliseum. During the concerts, Garth showed his versatility by ranging in musical styles from Country to Rock to Pop and back again.

Portions of the above text excerpted from articles written
by Sam McDonald with kind permission of the Daily Press, Inc.

Before there was a Hampton Coliseum, there was a huge borrow pit which was probably dug for dirt to construct the nearby I-64 overpasses and on/off ramps. This was an irresistible lure for reckless (and immortal) teenagers, and it wasn't long before we found our way there and swam in the fresh water with no bottom that we ever found.  This was before we began to read about the tragic drownings in such borrow pits with terrible regularity .. and, besides, it could never happen to any of us . it was always somebody else who drowned. 

The romantic possibilities of such a "private" beach were positively intoxicating to us.  So, we managed to invite some young ladies and arranged a night time swim, which was pretty darn late in the summertime.  It was certainly a memorable evening c'mon not THAT way.  It was a starlit night, otherwise quite dark, and the water was warm at the surface, but much colder a few feet down. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Whenever I pass by the Coliseum on I-64, I recall that night and quickly point out to whomever may be with me that I once swam under the current location of the Coliseum.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 06/01/04
Thanks, Dave!


This page has been due for a MIDI for a long time.

So, what to use for the Coliseum? Hmmmm .... Coliseum ... Rome ... Gladiators. No Brainer.
It has to be "Entrance of the Gladiators" by Julius Fucik.
That connection alone would be sufficient, but, when you hear the music,
you recognize it instantly as circus music into which it has metamorphosed over the years since its composition in 1897.
Of course, the Coliseum hosts the circus when it comes to town ... so the tune works well on that level, as well.

- Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/09/05
OOOOH!  Thanks, Dave!


(This page was created on 05/31/04.)

"Entrance of the Gladiators" midi courtesy of http://mama.indstate.edu/users/nizrael/jukebox.html
at the suggestion of Dave Spriggs ('64) of VA - 01/09/05

Thanks, Dave - it's perfect!

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