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Profile Of The Past: Memorial Coliseum – Part 1 Of 4

Posted by Matt on March 4, 2008


Date of Construction and Renovation(s)

Memorial Coliseum is a sports facility located on the campus of the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Construction of the building, built as a tribute to those from the state of Kentucky who were killed in World War I and in the Korean Conflict, was completed in 1950 on what is now known as Avenue of Champions as part of a $3.9 million dollar construction project. The arena, which was the replacement for the nearby Alumni Gymnasium, had what could be seen as its grand opening on December 1, 1950 when the first Adolph Rupp-led basketball team held court in the brand new 11,500 seat facility with a 73-43 win over West Texas State.

Since the structure’s debut, it has seen extensive renovations beginning in 1990 when a then $1 million dollar construction project reduced capacity by 3,000 seats from 11,500 to 8,500 but added various facilities including athletic offices, training and weight rooms, and student-athlete lounges. Additional renovations to the rear of the complex were completed in January of 2007 involving nearly $30 million dollars and included all new, state-of-the art training and athletic facilities for the men’s and women’s basketball teams as well as brand new offices for the athletic department; this addition to the Coliseum is known as the Joe C. Craft Center. The final step in the most recent renovation process occurred in the summer of 2007 and included general interior maintenance that culminated with a brand new gym surface that sparked a fan movement to retrieve pieces of wood from the previous Memorial Coliseum floor from the construction dumpsters.

Description of Architecture

Memorial Coliseum features a fairly basic design where seating rises up and out from the court on each side with little-to-no seating at each end of the court. This is visually evident from an exterior view with what appear to be inclined additions to the main part of the building protruding outward. The design for Memorial Coliseum is a simple gymnasium design and is similar to a large-scale version of a typical high school gymnasium or other area arenas such as the University of Dayton Arena in Dayton, Ohio. The building features yellow stone trimmed in gray with the main entrance flanked by the two original ticket offices and facing what was considered Euclid Avenue at the time of completion. The Coliseum engulfs an entire city block on the east side of Avenue of Champions and contains enough space to fill a seven-story skyscraper. This was an extremely large undertaking for a college athletic facility and many were skeptical that it could be filled to capacity simply by a college basketball game.

To be continued…


2 Responses to “Profile Of The Past: Memorial Coliseum – Part 1 Of 4”

  1. […] The Nasty Boys Sports Blog give Part 2 Of 4 of their Profile Of The Past: Memorial Coliseum segment. Part 1 can be found here. […]

  2. […] Boys are taking on an ambitious project with a four part serious on KY’s Memorial Coliseum. Part 1 is here and here is part […]

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