"Like the pyramids of Egypt and Grand Coulee dam, Spokane's mammoth concrete and steel structure, the municipal Coliseum, has been built to last," pronounced the Spokane Daily Chronicle on December 3, 1954, the day of Spokane Coliseum's grand opening.
Before 1954, Spokane had no set venue for large events such as music concerts or professional sports. The National Guard Armory (now the Laser Quest building), was Spokane's largest indoor venue, which meant seating was limited. The interest in building a large auditorium for events began in 1925, but one plan after another failed. In the spring of 1951 the public finally said yes to a ballot measure to give Spokane its coliseum.
The Coliseum had the unofficial nickname of "The Boone Street Barn" due to its location on Boone Street and the prior land use mainly as farmland. The land was purchased by the city for $20,000 from Mrs. Emma Rue. The site was originally a large rock pile, surrounded by farm land. Development of the site required extensive blasting and landscaping. Construction began in September 1953, it was completed a year later with the total cost at $2,500,000.
The dedication of the Spokane Coliseum was headed by Patrice Munsel from the Metropolitan Opera of New York City along with the Spokane Philharmonic Orchestra, who beautifully demonstrated the perfect acoustics of the new building to the 8,000 attendees. The city planned a thirteen-day dedication celebration due to the excitement surrounding the new Coliseum.
The Coliseum had a good run. It featured some of Spokane's top entertainment from 1953 until 1989, including Elvis Presley in 1973 and Kiss in 1977. It was home to the Spokane Chiefs hockey team, and hosted Gonzaga University basketball games. 1990 brought the International Goodwill Games to Spokane, drawing athletes from around the world.
As concerts grew larger in the 1980s, the once-capacious Coliseum began to look small. Artists such as Cher, ZZ Top and New Kids on the Block declined to perform in spokane because they could not sell as many tickets as in cities with larger venues. The Coliseum began to look old as well as small. There were water stains on the ceiling and walls and the ice-making system was unreliable.
Despite the opening-day predictions that they Coliseum would last as long as the pyramids, wrecking balls swung in 1995. All that remains of the once-mighty Spokane Coliseum is this parking lot, which serves the new Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena.