The Richfield Coliseum

Richfield Coliseum 12/03/11 - The rise and fall of the Richfield Coliseum is the most complex subject on this Website. It is a 30-year story that encompasses numerous local and state lawsuits, political battles, national parkland creation, professional sports successes and failures, and big money. As a result, this simple Webpage is piecemealed and incomplete. However, thanks to various websites and Ron Cockwell's online text A Green Shrouded Miracle, The Administrative History of Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, Ohio this page at least provides a decent synopsis.

Click "full story" below...

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In 1972, four years after Blossom Music Center opened in the village of Northampton as the summer home of the Cleveland Orchestra, Interstate 271 was completed. Initially, I271 (which connected I-71 and I-90) was slated to pass through the nearby village of Penninsula, but local opposition caused the interstate to be rerouted to the west of Penninsula through the village of Richfield instead. Suddenly the junction of I271, I80, and I77 became an ideal development area, as countless travellers passed through the location each day, and over five million people lived less than an hour away.

Nick Milletti Meanwhile, both the Cleveland Arena and Municipal stadium were showing their age. The Arena (located at 3717 Euclid Avenue and home to the world's first rock concert) was home to Cleveland millionaire Nick Mileti's fledgling Cavaliers and the Crusaders, and was built in 1937. Municipal Stadium, which was home to Mileti's Indians, was built in 1931. It was Mileti's plan to move both his Indians out of the aging Municipal Stadium (and prevent the team from relocating to New Orleans), and also move his Cavaliers and Crusaders out of the aging Arena. And Richfield would be ground zero.

The Coliseum was embattled from the start, with the aforementioned lawsuits, injunctions, the arguably crooked creation of a national park, and numerous other problems haunting it every step of the way, many of which can be read about in chapter 3 of A Green Shrouded Miracle. Nontheless, the anti-Coliseum battle was eventually lost, and at a cost of $36 million, the 20,000 seat Coliseum opened to a Frank Sinatra concert on October 26, 1974. Reportedly, the parking lots were not even completed yet. And while the Coliseum became the new home of the Cavaliers and several incarnations of hockey teams, the Indians were to remain in Cleveland. Coliseum T-Shirt

Despite all of the great concerts and sporting events that engaged millions of people over the next 20 years, the Coliseum was never able to overcome its poor location, traffic congestion, and poor concourse and loge layout. Brothers George and Gordon Gund purchased controlling interest in the Coliseum in 1981 and purchased the Cavs two years later. When plans for Gund Arena were announced in 1991, the writing was on the wall. After a Roger Daltrey concert on September 1, 1994, the Richfield Coliseum closed its doors for good.

The Coliseum sat dormant for five years, while talk of turning it into various things, such as a prison and a mega-mall, came and went. Eventually an agreement was reached to sell the property to the park system, and in March of 1999 the first wrecking ball struck. A security guard I spoke with at the time told me that the wrecking ball actually bounced off of the Coliseum when it first hit. It would seem that the Coliseum, so well-built and in a final act of defiance, was simply unwilling to give up the ghost after only 25 years. Nonetheless, demolition prevailed, and the structure's 30-year battle against the opponents who fought it so vehemently was over. Today, there is no trace of the structure, and the 327-acre site is now part of the Cuyahoga National Park.

Eventually I will post pictures from someone who broke in when it was being demolished...

Watch the Cavs "Miracle of Richfield," a fantastic Coliseum video at YouTube here.

Cleveland Arena
The Arena
Seating Layout
Seating Layout
Ticket Stub
Dead Stub
Cleveland Force
The Force
Coliseum
Coliseum
Crusaders
Crusaders
Crusaders
5 Years
Crusaders
Barons Pin
Crusaders
10 Years

7 comments

Comment from: annette [Visitor]
I worked as a ticket seller at the Coliseum for many years and I miss that place so much for many reasons...best job I ever had, great people, great shows and never a parking or traffic headache...hop on expressway and go.
03/16/12 @ 11:29
Comment from: Kathi [Visitor]
The Coliseum was a much better venue for watching hockey than the Gund/Q is. I also miss the walkway inside the seating area where you could walk about while watching what was going on down on the ice between periods. I still miss that place. But I don't miss the bad access roads (it was much better when they put the back road off of Black Road in) or trying to get there on a snowy evening!
04/23/12 @ 13:27
Comment from: Randy [Visitor]
I have many great memories of the Coliseum. Our family had season tickets to the Cleveland Force in the early '80s and enjoyed concerts in the late '80s. I was sad to see it go because it was so easy to get to instead of driving to downtown Cleveland.
05/24/12 @ 08:08
Comment from: Scott [Visitor]
I have great memories of the Coliseum...I attended many WHA Crusaders games and NHL Barons games in the 1970's. The Force and Crunch soccer teams kept me busy in the 1980's. It was a long drive on a snowy night, but the memories are nice.
02/09/13 @ 14:41
Comment from: Darry Roseman [Visitor]
LED ZEPPLIN @ THE RICHFIELD COLISEUM. Somewheres around 1975. Didn't even have a ticket pre-show. Told all my buddies in Kilcawley Center at YSU (playing cards and drinking coffee before class) the morning of the concert, that I was driving up to Cleveland from Youngstown later that afternoon to see Zep. They all said I was crazy (cause I had no ticket). I was determined. It felt pre-ordained. I couldn't 'not try'. One dude said he would go along. Chip Cossette. We went. It'was an hour and a half drive one way. Once there, hours in the cold went by. Very bitter outside that Winter day and evening. My hands started to freeze and my friend gave me the gloves off his hands. Show getting closer. Show finally ready to start. Worried; and then! Dude who was already inside, sold me one through a chain link fence separating inside from outside at one of the gates. Didn't even know if it was a real ticket when I shoved my money through the fence and into his hand. Surprise! It got me in. Didn't even look at the seat number. Squeezed my way all alone, up to the fourth row and penetrated in deep to the center to catch the start of the show. Unbelievable music, sound and stage presence from all four members. Showmen supreme. Volume pleasantly deafening. Plant's voice like fine polished crystal. Page's guitar was pure universal energy. Thunderbolts from Heaven & Hell. Bonham in locomotive high speed skin domination. JPJ was controlled musical genius. Didn't get busted (from the fourth row) until more than half the show was over. Spent the rest of the show on the main floor, wandering slowly wherever I wanted .......... both eyes on the stage. So cool. It just shows when you believe, what can happen. LZ was always 'total sell-out concerts' the day tickets went on sale. They were hard to get and the most expensive ticket back then. I never saw my friend the entire concert. Didn't even know if he saw it until it was over and I was back out in the parking lot. He made it in as well. Don't remember the drive home. Will never forget Plant hovering over me - just fifteen feet away. Something too, about the location of the Richfield Coliseum made going there very special. I liked the small town country feel the location had, due to its not being in a congested metropolitan area. Just a very cool destination. Miss it bad.
04/22/13 @ 09:04
Comment from: Darry Roseman [Visitor]
Related to my last post here; I searched through an old cigar box collection I started in the early/mid 70's. I found my Led Zepplin ticket stub (the one a stranger sold me through chain link fence at the gate that night .... see above story!). Of course back in the day, they ripped paper tickets with abandon, as you entered. No regard for leaving anything in writing intact. However, you can clearly see on my ticket that Zepplin played the Coliseum 1.24.75. My stub actually shows that I had the spot in Section 122; Row P; Seat 14. I never saw my seat! In fact, I never knew where that seat was located until today, 4.24.13, thanx to the seating chart that you posted on this site! There was a full-scale riot that night outside the gates, during the concert. It was published in all newspapers in Northeastern Ohio the next day. There were never enough seats to accomodate but a fraction of concert goers when Zepplin was playing. That was the main reason I had to attend the concert without ever purchasing a ticket (until the stranger behind the chain link fence, the night of the concert, and just minutes away from the beginning of the show). I am going to photograph what's left of the ticket stub and attach the pic of it to you in an Email. Give me a couple days. It clearly says: Streetsboro Rd 1271; has the letters PPELIN in the band area of the ticket; says 1.24; 1975 and shows that the ticket cost $7.50 face value. As I recall, the stranger asked me for $20 as he was rushing past me, and I was glad to shove a twenty at him through the fence.
04/24/13 @ 08:20
Comment from: Dave S. [Visitor] Email
I went to a Genesis concert in 1983 and a Roger Waters concert in 1985. I don't remember much except when I went into the bathroom and seen people passed out on the floor which had toilet overflow water covering the floor. I decided not to use the bathroom and used the parking lot later. I also had my 1984 NOHS graduation there.
06/02/13 @ 18:43