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Mid South Coliseum to close


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From the AP:



Memphis site of Kaufman and Beatles acts to shut down


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- The days of pile drivers at the Mid-South Coliseum are likely over.


The venue where professional wrestler Jerry "The King" Lawler in 1982 slammed comedian Andy Kaufman onto a mat and into the hospital is shutting down for all but graduations and other community events.


Cindy Buchanan, director of City Park Services, said the arena will go into "minimal maintenance mode" starting in January. Officials project that the coliseum will lose $400,000 in the current budget year.


Coliseum director Steve Fox said the decision to essentially shut down the 42-year-old building was "probably, in my opinion, the best move they could make to stop the bleeding."


Kaufman, who died in 1984, and Lawler engaged in a high-profile feud in what was later revealed to be an elaborate act. In the Memphis match, Kaufman managed to stay away from Lawler for five minutes before the wrestler dragged the comedian by his hair to the center of the ring, picked him up and slammed him down head first.


That move, called a pile driver, was repeated a second time, and Kaufman lay motionless on his back for 15 minutes before being sent to the hospital.


The Mid-South Coliseum also was the site 40 years ago of two Beatles shows on what ended up being the band's final U.S. tour. Local officials were not thrilled, though, passing a resolution to "advise the Beatles that they are not welcome in the City of Memphis."


The Mid-South Coliseum began to become obsolete when the city opened The Pyramid in 1991. That building was the city's primary sports and entertainment venue until 2004, when the FedExForum opened off Beale Street.


Bass Pro Shops announced in February a plan for a Pyramid store, but progress has been slow toward a binding contract. Fox said the city is still trying to find a private investor in the Mid-South Coliseum.


"I'm also very hopeful ... that there will be a firm offer from a private group to try and secure the building's future by privatization," Fox said.


Fox said the building had six full-time employees, down from 18 in earlier years.


"We're down to a basic skeleton crew - three engineers, myself, an office manager and a director of operations," he said.

Lots of great wrestling took place in that arena. Sad to see it go. I guess the venues in the Northeast are really the only old-time wrestling landmarks that are still going strong. The Superdome was damaged in Katrina, right? I know evacuees were going there at first, but didn't it eventually flood? And I would imagine all the TV studios where wrestling used to take place, like WMC-5 in Memphis and the Techwood Drive studio for TBS, have either been destroyed or renovated to a point where they're not really recognizable anymore. Is The Omni still in Atlanta?

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Is The Omni still in Atlanta?

Wiki - The Omni


Destroyed in 1997 for Philips Arena.  To a degree, one could say that Philips Arena is "the new Omni" since it's built on the same location in CNN Center.


That's better than MSG, of which the first two were on the same site, while the third in another location, and the fourth is in yet a third location.  The planned 5th version of MSG will be across the street from the current one.


It's pretty common around the country.  42 years is pretty good these days.  The Omni was just 1972-97.  All professional sports arenas are going that way.


The majority of older venues that one will see will be among universities, like the Alexander Memorial Coliseum for GATech which goes back to the mid-50s and was used a for the Hawks in the NBA for two stretches.  There are a few like the Greensboro Coliseum that are still around, but I think one would find that almost all of those have been spiffed/monderized at some point *and* aren't really the longterm homes of major pro sports.


It's pretty similar to what's going on with Baseball Parks around the country.  Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium are about ready to join the scrap heap, though at least Yankee Stadium will be across the street from the old one while Shea will still be in Flushing.


I'm somewhat loathed to think of Dodger Stadium being replaced, but I guess I wouldn't mind so much if the new stadium were also located in Chávez Ravine.  The notion of it being replaced seems to have been put on hold given it's current renovation.




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I didn't realize there was more than one version of MSG. I've never really read much about this or followed the history of arenas very much, but that's really interesting. The renovation is something that I'm sure is needed in pretty much every case, but I do think that in a perfect world the old venues would be maintained as historical monuments. That said, I understand why that doesn't happen.

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You want to talk about a building that has some great pro wrestling history behind it, look at Maple Leaf Gardens here in Toronto.  I know the NWA World Heavyweight Championship changed hands there at least once, when Harley Race beat Terry Funk, and I'm pretty sure that Lou Thesz and Buddy Rogers had a big match there too. There's a site about it here. I can't even count the number of NWA and WWF shows I attended at that arena myself.  I was sad when they moved to the SkyDome and then the Air Canada Centre.  I hate to see arenas with such a history close down.

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I hate to see arenas with such a history close down.


I tend to get mixed.  I'm a fan of history.  I'd hate to see Fenway or Dodger Stadium go.  But a lot of the older parks, stadiums and arenas in the country became exactly the same thing as the fascilities that they replaced - dumps.


The Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles had about as much "wrestling history" in the country as any arena outside of the various MSG (which gets a "cheat" by lumping the history of four venues together).  Yohe has fond memories of the place, and it's still a temple to him.  To me... it's a freaking dump.  I always found it a rather crappy place to watch wrestling.  But I came a long well after the heyday, in fact after the territoty had died and closed shop.  So I don't have the sentiment.


I think dumps need to get the boot.  The very best you can do with them is bulldozer them and put in a new fascility in its place.


I really think that's what needs to be done with Fenway at some point, with "New Fenway" retaining the field and park feel of the stadium, but the seating and boxes and food and other fascilities (locker room, offices, training room, etc) getting a massive redo into the 21st century.  In 20 or so years I would hope the same thing happens to Dodger Stadium, and that it's not turned into a "park" like we've seen in the post-Camden Yards era (I like the park feel in dimensions for most places... but part of the unique feel of Dodger Stadium is that it was just about the only "cookie cutter" ballpark that actually felt like a ballpark).


But I digress.  :)


I think that's the *best* that one can do.  Honor the past by building on the same sight with a modern fascility that also looks to retain some of the feeling of the past.


The next best would be building across the street like New Yankee Stadium or MSG 5.0... but again trying to retain some of the feel of the old place.


The next best would be a major spiff, like Dodger Stadium is currently getting.


After that... it's really a toss up.  Some places like the Olympic and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum really can't be spiffed.  I can't count the number of Rams, USC and UCLA games I've seen at the Coliseum over the years... along with various concerts, the Olympics, soccer games, etc.  But the place is a freaking dump.  It shoots great on TV, especially when it's packed (like USC is doing regularly now)... but it's a dump.  The parking is almost non-existant.  The food is horrendous.  Accessabliity sucks.  It's not really a great place to watch anything.  It was a crappy place more than 30 years ago when I went to my first Rams game there, and it hasn't gotten any better.  :)


The Olympic is in a part of town and on a size of lot that's a problem.  On top of that, there was the Sports Arena not far away across the freeway, and now the Staples Center around the bend on the Blue Line in a better part of downtown.  The city doesn't exactly need another "arena".  The cost to put in a new one on that location would be a waste.  To a degree it would be nice if the city had a 5,000 - 6,000 seat fascility for... er... "something" that's more intimate than Staples Center.  But major cities don't seem to be doing that.


So I'd just as soon see the Olympic get bulldozered.  :/




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John, have you ever made a list of the more "famous" venues in which you have seen wrestling, or have you hit so many that you really haven't missed any?  You've been to Japan too, right?  I would have loved to go to the Budokan during the 90's, but I only became interested in AJPW after the NOAH split.  I actually tried to get the money to see Misawa/Kawada at the Tokyo Dome for Destiny...but it was so much money I couldn't afford it.

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I really haven't hit that many.  :)


I draw a blank on the ones in the US... outside of LA, nothing really that interesting.  Even in the rest of CA it's not that interesting.  Never even went to the Cow Palace to see wrestling.


Nothing in Mexico that is all that famous.  Never went to Mexico City.  I don't think Rio Nilo Coliseum in Tonala/Guadalajara is all that famous.  The places in Tijuana aren't terribly famous other than to the folks who liked to go to them.  :)


Japan... Budokan, Korakuen Hall, Tokyo Dome, Yokohama Arena, Ryogoku Sumo Hall in Tokyo.  Another in Tokyo for fan appreciation night... I want to say Tokyo Metropolitan Gym, but can't recall if that's it and it wasn't especially famous at that point nor did New Japan or anyone else run it much.  Yokohama Bunka Gym isn't exactly super famous, and frankly was a dump in the shows I went to.


No famous arenas outside of Tokyo.




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