New Haven Coliseum

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New Haven Coliseum
New Haven Coliseum morning of demolition.JPG
The Coliseum on the morning of the implosion, with much of the structure stripped away.
New Haven Coliseum
Address275S S Orange St, New Haven, CT 06510
Location New Haven, Connecticut
Capacity Full: 11,497 [1]
Ice hockey:
Surface200 ft × 85 ft (61 m × 26 m) (hockey)
Broke ground1968
ClosedSeptember 1, 2002
DemolishedJanuary 20, 2007
New Haven Nighthawks (AHL) (19721992)
Hartford Hellions (MISL) (19791980)
New Haven Senators (AHL) (1992–1993)
Connecticut Coasters (RHI) (1993)
Beast of New Haven (AHL) (19971999)
New Haven Knights (UHL) (20002002)
Connecticut Pride (CBA/IBL) (20002001)
New Haven Ninjas (AF2) (2002)

New Haven Coliseum was a sports and entertainment arena located in downtown New Haven, Connecticut. Construction began in 1968 and was completed in 1972. The Coliseum was officially closed on September 1, 2002, by Mayor John DeStefano Jr., and demolished by implosion on January 20, 2007.


The arena's formal name was New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, but most locals simply referred to it as "New Haven Coliseum". The Coliseum held 11,497 people at full capacity, and occupied 4.5 acres (18,000 m²) of land next to the Knights of Columbus Building and faced the Oak Street Connector/Route 34 downtown spur.

Hosted events

The Coliseum hosted the New Haven Knights of the United Hockey League, New Haven Nighthawks, New Haven Senators, and Beast of New Haven of the American Hockey League, as well as the 1984 Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and Yale University's 2002 National Invitational Tournament men's college basketball tournament opening round games. Also, it was home of the Connecticut Coasters roller hockey team in 1993, the Connecticut Pride of the IBL during the 2000–01 season, and the New Haven Ninjas af2 team in 2002. Ice Capades has also been presented at the Coliseum. [2] New Haven Coliseum was also second home to Yale University Hockey, playing games sporadically at the Coliseum over the years. The U.S.A. Women's Olympic Squad played an exhibition game vs. Sweden on December 15, 2001.

Notably, in 1986, the Coliseum served as the setting for Van Halen's multi-platinum concert film Live Without a Net . [3] Many of the era's most prominent musical stars also appeared at the Coliseum.

The pilot episode of WWE SmackDown was filmed at the Coliseum on April 27, 1999, and aired on UPN two days later. [4]

Tool was the final musical act on August 20, 2002. [5]

The final event held at the Coliseum was a professional wrestling show held by World Wrestling Entertainment, one of the original attractions in the arena since 1972. The WWE considered the Coliseum its home arena, as it was—for much of its history—the closest venue to WWE's headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut. Most matches were broadcast, first on WTNH, as well as on local UHF stations. [6]

A poster archiving all concerts hosted at the Coliseum was put on the parking lot, on March 4, 2021. It was a commemoration of the coliseum and rock n roll culture.



The Coliseum was built to replace the New Haven Arena, New Haven's prior indoor sports and entertainment venue. The Coliseum, as well as the neighboring Knights of Columbus building, was designed by the architect Kevin Roche of Roche-Dinkeloo. One interesting aspect of the arena's design was that the parking garage was built on top of the actual Coliseum structure; this was necessitated by a high water table in the area which made it overly difficult to construct sub-surface parking facilities. Though an interesting solution, this design was unpopular because of the quarter-mile helical ramps required to access the parking. Vincent Scully, the revered architectural historian at nearby Yale University, often referred to the design as "Structural Exhibitionism" in his modern architecture lectures. Other features of the design, such as street storefronts and an exhibition hall, were never completed.


During the 1980s, the structure of the parking garages had deteriorated to the point where large canvas panels had to be attached to the outside to catch pieces of concrete that would occasionally drop off onto the sidewalk below. Renovations were made to correct that problem. The city shut down the facility in 2002 after concluding that it was a drain on city coffers. However, the city did not hold any public hearings, referendum votes, or conduct any surveys, and several groups, local stakeholders, and the Coalition to Save Our Coliseum mounted a campaign to save and renovate the Coliseum, to no avail. Others in the community supported the plan to demolish the arena. Despite Mayor DeStefano's plan to close and demolish the building within six months, it ultimately took more than four years.

Among the reasons for the Coliseum's demise was the construction or renovation (often with state money) in the 1990s of alternative comparably sized venues within the southern Connecticut market. The Arena at Harbor Yard in Bridgeport attracted a minor league hockey team, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The Mohegan Sun Arena was built about an hour away, and became the home of the Connecticut Sun. Many musical acts started booking the Oakdale Theatre in the city of Wallingford, Connecticut after it was upgraded and expanded. Even though the state gave $5.5 million to the arena for new paint, signage, and scoreboards, the Coliseum simply could not compete with newer facilities. Even as early as 1980 the Coliseum was decried as a "White Elephant". Mayor DeStefano also had staked out a strategy of investing city resources into arts and cultural activities rather than attracting sports teams to the city. [7]


The controlled demolition of the New Haven Coliseum. Demolition of the New Haven Coliseum.gif
The controlled demolition of the New Haven Coliseum.

Actual demolition work began in late October 2005 with removal of most of the arena area. At 7:50 a.m. on January 20, 2007, after years of wrangling and delay, the Coliseum was finally imploded, using more than 2,000 pounds of explosive. It was said that the implosion could be heard all the way to Meriden and Northford. As it came down, a massive cloud of dust and smoke covered the surrounding area, but blew away quickly toward the shoreline. Upwards of 20,000 people watched from the nearby Temple Street Garage and other buildings, and residents of nearby apartments were evacuated. The two helical ramps were not imploded, and were subsequently destroyed by conventional methods.

The city has tentative plans to replace the Coliseum with a new downtown/Long Wharf redevelopment plan, [8] including a relocated Long Wharf Theatre and a new campus for Gateway Community College.

A temporary 400-space parking lot opened on the former Coliseum site on December 4, 2007, [9] but plans are advancing to redevelop the site with a hotel, hundreds of housing units and approximately 40,000 square feet (3,700 m2) of commercial space. The master developer, LiveWorkLearnPlay had the project approved in 2013, but construction has been delayed due to cost issues related to the moving of utilities and conflicts related to planned highway improvements. [10]

On January 12, 2009 the Knights of Columbus filed a lawsuit against the City of New Haven, Stamford Wrecking Company and Demolition Dynamics Company. [11] The lawsuit seeks repayment for damages incurred to the Knights of Columbus Building and Knights of Columbus Museum across the street from the Coliseum.

After demolition

A poster that documents all concerts held at the coliseum A poster that documents all concerts held at the coliseum.jpg
A poster that documents all concerts held at the coliseum

A poster archiving all concerts held at the Coliseum was installed on the parking lot, on March 4, 2021. It was a commemoration of the Coliseum and rock 'n roll culture.

See also

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  1. "Billboard Boxscore" (PDF). Billboard . Vol. 94 no. 47. November 17, 1982. p. 34. ISSN   0006-2510.
  2. The Day (newspaper). New London, Connecticut. September 24, 1975. p. 18.Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. "Van Halen: Live Without a Net". Amazon .
  4. "It was a blast (literally) to be at The New Haven Coliseum - Part 2". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  5. "New Haven Coliseum". .
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-04-02. Retrieved 2011-09-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Nightmare in the Elm City", New Haven Register , July 23, 2006
  8. "New Haven's Gateway Downtown Development Project". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  9. "Former coliseum site opens as parking lot, WTNH Channel 8 New Haven, December 4, 2007". Retrieved 20 April 2018.
  10. O'Leary, Mary (April 6, 2017). "Plans for major development at former New Haven Coliseum site delayed, not dead". New Haven Register. New Haven, Connecticut . Retrieved April 26, 2018.
  11. "Knights of Columbus sue city for damages". Yale Daily News. January 14, 2009. Archived from the original on February 9, 2013.

41°18′09″N72°55′32″W / 41.302490°N 72.925454°W / 41.302490; -72.925454 Coordinates: 41°18′09″N72°55′32″W / 41.302490°N 72.925454°W / 41.302490; -72.925454