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Profile Of The Past: Memorial Coliseum – Part 3 Of 4

Posted by Matt on March 12, 2008



Part 1 (link)

Part 2 (link)

Connection With Campus Plan

Memorial Coliseum was built on the north east edge of campus directly across from Stoll Field at McLean Stadium, otherwise known as the home of Kentucky’s football team from 1916 until 1973. This created a complete facility that served all of the athletic, recreational, and physiological needs of the students and student-athletes and was located adjacent to Alumni Gymnasium, the previous home of Kentucky basketball, and the main dormitories at the time

Since then, campus has built up around Memorial Coliseum but it continues to fulfill the original mission for students and is far from forgotten. The building is sill the center piece on Avenue of Champions with a long, broad sidewalk extending from the main undergraduate class room building and down across Stoll Field, dead-ending in to the main entrance of Memorial Coliseum. In recent history, additional student housing, the Student Center, and various off-campus and on-campus eateries have all been built up adjacent to and around Memorial Coliseum. Nearly fifty-eight years after its completion, H.L. Donvan’s dream is still the heart of a campus area design dedicated to student life.

Legends and Lore

There is not much in the way of lore about Memorial Coliseum passed down from various generations of students, such as ghost stories or mysteries, but the building is no stranger to campus legends. Any athlete who put on a Kentucky jersey was almost always a legend in their own right but the building is unofficially known as “The House that Rupp Built” in honor of the long-tenured and legendary men’s basketball coach, Adolph Rupp, who would later get an arena built in his honor. Rupp is a legend of epic proportions and marched his armies of Wildcat basketball teams on to the court of Memorial Coliseum every season for 22 years, winning an unprecedented 22 Southeastern Conference Championships and two National Championships along the way.

An extension to the legend of Adolph Rupp that could be considered lore for Memorial Coliseum and the men’s basketball program is that, upon completion, the Coliseum was considered a “white elephant” by many. Due to the shear size of the building, people were skeptical that it could be fully utilized or that the seats could be filled to capacity. Coach Rupp was not only able to fill the seats of Memorial Coliseum each game but was also able to dominate the Southeastern Conference while doing so. Ironically enough, skeptics made the same observation about Alumni Gymnasium, the previous home to Kentucky basketball, but were silenced when the program was forced to move.

To be concluded…


One Response to “Profile Of The Past: Memorial Coliseum – Part 3 Of 4”

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