Allen County War Memorial Coliseum

Google map photo from Street View.

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (ca. 1952)

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum (ca. 1952) Photographer John McGauleyColor, Date Created 2017-11-03, in the Allen County Public Library Digital Collections at the Allen County Public Library.

Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne, IN promo reel posted Sep 5, 2013 by ACWMC on YouTube

The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum is the tri-state area's leading sports, entertainment and tradeshow facility, hosting over 1,000,000 visitors annually. Serving northeast Indiana, northwest Ohio and southern Michigan, the 80-acre Memorial Coliseum and Expo Center complex is host to the Fort Wayne Komets (ECHL), the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (NBA D-League) and the Fort Wayne Derby Girls (WFTDA). The facility also hosts national concerts, family shows, business and consumer events, the area's largest tradeshows and private gatherings. For more information, visit www.memorialcoliseum.com. (Video production by Mission3 Media)

4000 Parnell Avenue, http://www.memorialcoliseum.com/ (260) 482-9502. Designed by Alvin M. Strauss. Ground was broken for Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on January 24, 1950. There was nothing but farms in the area. The $3 million project took more than two years to complete and was dedicated on September 28, 1952, shown in a short video ACPL Presents: Historical Footage Of Allen County -  Show 13719 by Access Fort Wayne public television at the Allen County Public Library.

Memorial Coliseum: Dedicated Sept. 28, 1952 with photo, Corey McMaken Sep 28, 2017 Updated Jun 6, 2022  in the History Journal archives of the Journal Gazette newspaper. February 16, 2023 aerial photo posted on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook.

How the Memorial Coliseum Was Built from History on their website http://www.memorialcoliseum.com/about-us/history.

The idea behind the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum began in 1944, when the Fort Wayne Junior Chamber of Commerce (now known as the Jaycees) began discussing a proposal "to undertake a project to build a field house in Fort Wayne and dedicate it as a war memorial." Then, buildings in the area were too small to house larger community functions such as sports events and concerts.

The Jaycees, and their wives, worked hard to to garner public support for the project by passing out handbills door to door and distributing buttons to schoolchildren that read "We Want the War Memorial Coliseum." As the country was involved in World War II, the idea of a permanent memorial to Allen County's war heroes appealed to many residents. A county-wide referendum on the Memorial Coliseum passed, despite the $3 million price tag, which was considered a huge sum.

The Allen County commissioners started by purchasing the site - a prime piece of real estate at California Road and Parnell Avenue, near two farms, Johnny Appleseed Park and highway US 30 being constructed nearby (now Coliseum Boulevard). After securing needed financing through a bond issue, the commissioners broke ground for the project in January 1950. Upon completion in September 1952, a dedication ceremony was held, with 24 area veterans' organizations and 10,000 people attending.

84-page History Program

Historical Concert List since the first show in 1952 to the present

8-page Program from Grand Re-Opening on November 9, 2002

August 2, 2023 post by The History Center on Facebook:

In 1944 the Fort Wayne Junior Chamber of Commerce proposed creating an event hall to honor Allen County war heroes. This space, they maintained, would fill a pressing need to give the city a large event venue, unavailable at the time in Fort Wayne. After passing a county-wide referendum, the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum began construction in 1950, despite the $3 million price tag. Since its completion in 1952, the Memorial Coliseum has boasted a long history of hosting a variety of events including circuses, political rallies, trade shows, school ceremonies and numerous sporting events. During the 1980s, the building saw even more growth with the addition of the Expo Center, allowing an even further range of events to be held within its halls. Another renovation came in 2002, increasing the height of the ceiling by 41 feet, 10 inches, the largest project of its kind, providing space for more seats and additional services for disabled visitors. As an iconic fixture of the Fort Wayne community, the War Memorial Coliseum serves as the stage upon which history is made. Exactly 21 years ago today, on August 2, 2002, this piece of cable was used to raise the roof of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Approximately 6,720 feet of cable was used. The latest addition to the structure came in 2015, with the building of the Conference Center. #sociallyhistory

March 9, 2017 post by Hofer and Davis, Inc. Land Surveyors on Facebook:

For "Throwback Thursday" we share this aerial photo of the Coliseum and surrounding area taken sometime before 1952 (Copyright 1959 is on the map). Our friend Randy Harter (local author and historian) had shared on a Fort Wayne Nostalgia page (You are positvely from Fort Wayne, if you remember...) some good information on the Coliseum and we added this to his post! BTW..... A.K. Hofer prepared a survey of the farm where the Coliseum was built in 1941, or about 7 years before the land was purchased in 1948!

 

Shared March 9, 2023 on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook.

August 19, 2019 post by the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Facebook:

Check out this historical photo of the Memorial Coliseum, taken on August 18, 1950! Taken two years before the facility opened its doors, this photo shows the building in the midst of construction. Look at all that farm land and natural vegetation!

PHOTO: @JGfortwayne

May 15, 2019 post by Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Facebook: Check out these photos of the Memorial Coliseum, taken in May 1951 in the midst of construction! Since the facility opened its doors in 1952, we continue to renovate, expand and even "raise the roof" to provide the best experience for our guests! Photo provided - Journal Gazette

September 28, 2018 post by the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Facebook:

Happy 66th Birthday to the Memorial Coliseum! On September 28, 1952, a dedication ceremony was held upon completion of construction, with 10,000 people in attendance. Check out the photo below courtesy of the Journal Gazette archives. 

 

— @acwmc (@acwmc) September 28, 2022

 

Similar 70th birthday post September 28, 2022 post on Facebook.

  1. The coliseum posts On This Day past programs on Facebook.
  2. The Komets have played at the Coliseum since 1952, and the Zollner Pistons played five seasons there before moving to Detroit. It is currently the home of the Mad Ants as well as the venue for a variety of events including concerts, expos and the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale. Copied from Throwback Thursday: Memorial Coliseum published September 28, 2017 in The Journal Gazette newspaper.
  3. Limited Preview The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum : an address by Adams, Otto H; Public Library of Fort Wayne and Allen County. cn, 1954, on Archive.org. The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum 32-page paper Adams Otto-6 Nov 1953-0002 in the Quest Club Papers at the Allen County Public Library. Complete online version The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, by Otto H. Adams.

  4. You'll never believe what happened at the Coliseum 21-page paper Parker Maclyn T-06 Apr 2012-000 in the Quest Club Papers at the Allen County Public Library.
  5. Allen County War Memorial Coliseum is home to the Komets, the Mad Ants, and the Fort Wayne Derby Girls.
  6. For 12 consecutive years, Memorial Coliseum has been named a “prime site” by Facilities Magazine. It was recently ranked 13th in the world for ticket sales among similar-sized venues in the industry’s leading publication, Venues Today. From Team behind Coliseum success Many hands help venue put on events, which boost area economy by Vivian Sade published September 15, 2013 on The Journal Gazette newspaper.
  7. Allen County War Memorial Coliseum, Fort Wayne IN: aerial view with numbers attached. Number interpretation: 1. Coliseum Blvd., 2. bridge over river, 3. city utilities park, 4. baseball park, 5. Johnny Appleseed's grave, 6. Parnell Ave is one of over a dozen Allen County War Memorial Coliseum photos in the Allen County Public Library Digital Collections at the Allen County Public Library.
  8. The coliseum was intentionally built on the north side in the country to draw development to the north side of the river. Trains on the railroad tracks along the rivers on the north side of Fort Wayne often blocked northbound traffic preventing north side development. In 1947 Mayor Harry Baals proposed elevating the Nickel Plate railroad tracks along the old Wabash & Erie canal in Fort Wayne. Elevation started in 1953 and finished in 1956. North side development started in the 1950s and has never stopped. Mayor Harry Baals legacy is the decades of north side development, but instead became world famous in 2011 when comedian Jimmy Kimmell played a sketch video joking about the pronounciation of the mayors name. Scotty Moore has an interesting history of the early coliseum, especially Elvis Presley's 1957 concert with newspaper articles.
  9. It's #waybackwednesday! Take a look at this picture of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne! Pictured in...

    Posted by Genealogy Center on Wednesday, February 21, 2024

    February 21, 2024 post by the Genealogy Center on Facebook:

    It's #waybackwednesday! Take a look at this picture of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne! Pictured in the 1950s with cars lining the drive. 🚗

    Check out our Community Album to view this photo and hundreds more: http://contentdm.acpl.lib.in.us/

  10. More than 100 newspapers, magazines, news agencies and radio and television stations will send representatives to the tournament and at least 700 dailies and weeklies throughout the U.S., Canada and Hawaii plan special coverage of local bowlers. THIRTY THOUSAND BOWLERS THAT'S HOW MANY WILL TREAD THE LANES OF THE FORT WAYNE MEMORIAL COLISEUM IN THE 72-DAY ABC TOURNAMENT, BOWLING'S ANNUAL JAMBOREE, VICTOR KALMAN, March 28, 1955, Sports Illustrated. March 29, 2023 post on True Fort Wayne Indiana History on Facebook.
  11. February 24, 2022 post by The Journal Gazette on Facebook:

    HISTORY JOURNAL In March 1955, Memorial Coliseum was turned into a 38-lane bowling center ahead of the American Bowling Congress. More: Coliseum becomes bowling alley in 1955 Corey McMaken.

    #fortwayne #indiana #throwbackthursday #tbt #history #bowling

  12. FORT WAYNE, Ind., June 5 (UP)--The fifty-second American Bowling Congress tournament, which opened in a snowstorm March 26, ended in 90-degree temperatures today. BOWLING TOURNEY ENDS IN FORT WAYNE June 6, 1955 The New York Times archives.
  13. July 16, 2023 post by Presleyteriana /Elvis Life in Photos on Facebook:

    Fort Wayne , Indiana , March 30 , 1957

  14. Raising The Roof Helmut Cerovsek, P.E. and Chris Rust, February 2003, Modern Steel Construction A steel roof-raising renovation saved time and money for the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, IN is a 4-page document February 2003 in Modern Steel Construction on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine.
  15. Allen County War Memorial Coliseum No. 4 In The World on Venues Today “Top Stop” List For December 2012 – January 2013.
  16. Unearthed plans for "City Coliseum" and "Victory Center" fascinate -- and stump -- historians Artifacts show county wanted to honor veterans long before Memorial Coliseum came along by Kevin Leininger published September 19, 2013 in The News-Sentinel newspaper.
  17. Allen County War Memorial Coliseum ca. 1952

    By Randy Harter Fort Wayne Reader 2017-03-06

    Coliseum 1952

    In 1944 the Fort Wayne Junior Chamber of Commerce (now known as the Jaycees) proposed building a fieldhouse/coliseum as a fitting memorial to the men and women of Allen County who had lost their lives during both world wars. While the planning and the building of public support was moving forward in 1945, feasibility and location became an issue as plans were announced by a private company to build a sports arena in the Quimby Village area, a project that ultimately never came to fruition, and there were those that felt the building should be constructed closer to downtown in Lawton Park.

    Due to the building’s projected expense, in 1946 the project was put to a vote by way of a public referendum in that fall’s election. An extensive publicity campaign was undertaken by the War Memorial Commission, and Jaycees, that besides utilizing traditional advertising media also included dropping thousands of leaflets over the city from a plane as well as a torchlight parade on the election eve. When the votes were counted, the referendum had been approved, with 25,000 for and just 5,000 against.

    In 1948 100 acres were purchased at Parnell Avenue and California Road adjacent to what was then called the “Municipal Beach,” and local architect A. M. Strauss (Parkview Hospital, Central Catholic, Lincoln National Bank Tower) was hired to design the building. In January 1950, a 3 million dollar bond issue was floated, and Hagerman Construction Company was awarded the construction contract. Due to steel shortages during the Korean War, work did not progress as quickly as anticipated. However, in September of 1952 the Coliseum was completed and its dedication held with 24 area veterans’ organizations and 10,000 people attending.

    Since its completion, the War Memorial Coliseum has undergone numerous changes and upgrades. Not the least of these was the building of the 108,000 square foot Expo Center in 1989; raising the 1,200 ton roof 41 feet, 10 inches in 2001 at a cost of 34.5 million dollars that also included a major renovation throughout; and in 2015 the Conference Center to the south end of the building giving the complex a total of over one million square feet under roof.

    Throughout the building’s 65-year history it has only had four general managers, Don Meyers, Bob Tenbarge, Phil Olofson, and since 1988, Randy Brown.

    Those whose names are now enshrined at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum are Allen County citizens who lost their lives in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

    (Image courtesy Craig Leonard Collection)

    Randy Harter is a Fort Wayne Historian and author of two books on local history.

    Posted March 7, 2017 by Randy Harter, Fort Wayne historian and authoron You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Archived group only visible to existing members on Facebook.

  18. March 9, 2017 post by Hofer and Davis, Inc. Land Surveyors on Facebook:

    For "Throwback Thursday" we share this aerial photo of the Coliseum and surrounding area taken sometime before 1952. Our friend Randy Harter (local author and historian) had shared on a Fort Wayne Nostalgia page (You are positvely from Fort Wayne, if you remember...) some good information on the Coliseum and we added this to his post! BTW..... A.K. Hofer prepared a survey of the farm where the Coliseum was built in 1941, or about 7 years before the land was purchased in 1948! 

    Hofer shared this image March 8, 2017 in a comment to the Randy Harter Fort Wayne Reader post on You are positively from Fort Wayne, if you remember... Archived group only visible to existing members on Facebook:

    This is a Sidwell aerial from our company files that predates the 1952 photo you shared, as the Coliseum is not yet completed and construction of the Gerberhaus has not been begun. However, you can see the Standard Oil gas station at the corner of California and Leo Roads, which still is in existance. Your question on the building in your photo, Randy Harter, at 11:00 was a mystery???? We have a survey done in 1959 and recorded in Deed Record 554 pages 283-285 by my father, Carl A. Hofer identifying the building in question as the DELUXE-MARINE company! BTW.... we have a survey in our files, prepared by my grandfather, A.K. Hofer in 1941, of 77.17 acres, which was the farm before the Coliseum was built. We started keeping field note records in 1948 or so, can't figure out who it was for!

    One comment noted the: Municipal Beach went across the road

    Randy Harter commented: Very cool Hans. I love that it shows the old feeder canal bed. Nice! 

    Another conversation: Randy Harter: Hans, are these Sidwell's part drawing, part photograph? How were they produced? Hans Hofer: Randy Harter , yes part drawing and part photograph. We have three Sidwell books that were bought before I started working in 1975. When an area got developed with more subdivisions, they would send an updated version of the map, deleting any of the photography. The books downtown and surrounding area have no photography at all, since they are developed. However ,the books out in the country are still aerial photos, sometimes the whole Section, and sometimes a Quarter Section. Pretty sure the Sidwell Company still exists out of Chicago, although we no longer have a contract with them, with County GIS, etc.

  19. Aug. 2, 2002: Raising the roof of Memorial Coliseum Three inches per minute. the 43,680-square-foot roof of Memorial Coliseum was raised 41 feet and 10 inches. It took almost five hours. by Corey McMaken published March 28, 2019 in the JGHistory Journal of The Journal Gazette newspaper
  20. Two second video Raising the Roof at the Memorial Coliseum by ACWMC July 20, 2010 on YouTube
    Time lapse video of the roof raising of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana

  21. February 28, 2023 post by Hidden View Photography on Facebook:

  22. June 7, 2023 post by Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Facebook:

    Have you ever wondered if a musical artist or band has performed at the Memorial Coliseum?

    Check out the Historical Concert List on our website!

    VIEW THE LIST: https://www.memorialcoliseum.com/about-us/history

    Click on "Concert History of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum"

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