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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Demolishing of New Haven Coliseum begins

Let Dick Clark work out the details New Haven Register photo

Earlier this week, work began on the demolition of the New Haven (Ct.) Coliseum, which for three decades was home to several AHL teams, including the New Haven Nighthawks and the Beast of New Haven, as well as the New Haven Knights of the UHL.

The Coliseum was where I went to my first AHL game, which would've been around 1988 to see the New Haven Nighthawks. I remember buying a plastic souvenir Nighthawks hockey stick, which I kept in the back window of my car until the sunlight warped it. I was still going to about five New Haven Knights games each year, from Opening Night in 2000 until the building was shuttered in 2002.

Graham Smith Cries On Cue G. Fox photo

New Haven has a rich 75-year history of pro hockey, and the New Haven Coliseum was a big part of that. It wasn't the prettiest arena in the world-- there were huge concrete pillars at the corners instead of seats and immense, drab-looking ductwork everywhere you looked, plus the first row of seats at one end of the ice was practically above the glass, about 8 feet in the air. The box office was outside (which sucked when you had to wait in line during the winter), the escalator to the parking garage upstairs almost never worked, and the parking garage with its single corkscrew-shaped exit ramp was usually a bitch to get out of.

Old Leon may not know much, but he knows he could kick your ass New Haven Knights

Still, the building wasn't without some charm, and New Haven hockey fans are some of the proudest, fiercest, and rowdiest fans you'll find anywhere. It stinks that there isn't an AHL team in New Haven, but that might have as much to do with the current economics of the AHL-- which has teams increasingly being placed in larger markets while abandoning the smaller cities like those in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces-- as it does with the loss of the New Haven Coliseum.


Anonymous pack attack said...

Great update Brushback.

I never saw a hockey game in New Haven but I am appreciative of the New Haven hoceky fans -- many who have latched onto the Trashers in Danbury. They are ledgendary and this must be very said for them.

I did take my children to New Haven to see the WWF a couple times. What yah goin' to do when Hulkamania runs wild on you!

BTW. Around Christmas time last year the South Windsor Arena still had in their extensive Hockey Jersey section a Beast of New Haven Jersey. The same one has been there for years.

11/3/05, 9:22 AM

Anonymous Joe Blowitoutcherass said...

I'm so glad they're tearing that piece of crap down.

11/3/05, 9:36 AM

Blogger Brushback said...

Aside from Joe Blowitoutcherass, I find it suprising that there's that many people who're willing to pass up owning a jersey with the stunning Beast of New Haven logo on it.

Myself, I own a Knights jersey, but that's about it.

Speaking of old jerseys, a buddy of mine has told me that he knows where the complete final set of New Haven Nighthawks jerseys resides in storage. Apparently the team never took them back from the dry cleaners after they played their last season.

11/3/05, 9:07 PM

Blogger Michael said...

Aww.. man.. I wish the Knights would have made it after 1 UHL season. Those uni's were bad ass!

11/4/05, 1:51 AM

Anonymous joe blowitoutcherass said...

I STILL see people walking around in those Beast jerseys like they're some kind of hot. Makes me want to throw up in my mouth a little.

11/4/05, 9:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best part of going there were the concerts isaw eric Clapton w/ Muddy Waters back in 79 which was
my first show ever.
But on the down side an old classmates brother was killed by a car after a WHO show there the other downside were the mongaliod fan's in sec 14 to bad the asswipes are runing Danbury now.

11/4/05, 1:53 PM

Blogger Brushback said...

Speaking of all the concerts they used to have there-- the Coliseum is where Van Halen filmed their Live Without A Net concert video, about three years after the last good song they wrote...

11/6/05, 3:12 PM

Anonymous Puckie14 said...

R.I.P. New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

11/7/05, 10:42 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will always regret never making it to a hockey game or other event at the Coliseum.

11/10/05, 11:02 PM

Anonymous NHC4Life said...

Isn't it ironic how DumbStefano planed the begining of the demolition on the week of Veterans Day? Remember, the Coliseum was a Veterans Memorial, dedicated to World War II Veterans back in 1972. Hence the name, The New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum!

Shame on you, John! You'll still NEVER be governor!

11/11/05, 10:24 PM

Blogger Brushback said...

Click here for some photos taken of the Coliseum during the early stages of it being torn down (from the "New Haven Independent" blog site).

11/25/05, 10:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was born in New Haven back in '62, drove past the coliseum every week watching it being built as a kid.. Went to my first two concerts back in '78 Queen and Aero Smith both in one week.
Watched a few Nighthawk games over the years.. Just wish I bought a jersey when I had a chance.. cool uniforms!

5/3/06, 1:15 PM

Blogger Brushback said...

The New Haven Coliseum held a lot of fond memories for an awful lot of people. For that reason alone, it's a shame to see it go.

5/4/06, 1:54 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw motley crew open for Ozzy Osborn back in 82 might have been 83. I remember driving up the spiral drive and bouncing off the walls in my first car. growing up we could see the coliseum from my grandparents house in west Haven its a shame to see it go with all its History

5/31/06, 9:06 PM

Blogger Brushback said...


This link should take you to a video news segment on the New Haven Coliseum implosion, which took place this morning:

Click here for video

You can see the demolition blasts going off in sequence around the base of the building, and then the smoke and dust from the implosion covering the nearby interstate.

I'm guessing this link won't stay up for long on the Yahoo/AP web site, though.

1/20/07, 4:15 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry folks, byt the Coliseum was a dump from opening night-Nighthawks vs Minnesota North Stars which i still have the program for...all through the days I played there in NH Youth hockey. It NEVER held the special place the NH Arena did, and never could. NH was, and always will be, an "arena" type of town. When it was built, NH wanted to think of itself as 'big time' now with pro hockey, out of the dark ages that was the Arena and the Blades, and before them, the Americans and Ramblers.
Sorry folks, NH was never big time at anything, and the best it had was the Arena, the perfect symbol of the type of people who went to see Blades games. The Coliseum was a mistake--and horrendous dump from day one. Good riddence.

4/23/08, 4:07 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the Coliseum and was sad to see it go. I played youth hockey there too, and went to many Nighthawks games. I later moved to a different city, but did manage to catch a Beast, and a Knights game upon visiting my folks, before it was torn down.

It was very nostalgic for me to come back there 15 years after my last Nighthawks game to watch the Knights. The place still felt the same. I don't understand why anyone would call it ugly. It is just '70's style. Like a Tarantino movie...very cool actually.

I saw my first pro game there with my Pop. Hawks v.s Baltimore Clippers 1972. A short time later I stopped by the lower box office with my Mom to get tix to another game, and the team was just finishing day-practice. The guard let me go in and watch. I pass Bob Nystrom as he is coming off the ice "How you doin' kid?" (I was seven yrs old). I proceed to the open door that leads to the ice, and there are only two guys left on the ice at this point, Chico Resch and Ken McPhail. Chico compliments me on my flashy red sneakers, and hands me his glove, blocker and stick. "...go on...get on the ice" he says. Of course I put on the equipment and take a few steps onto the ice. McPhail skates over with a puck " ready pal?" indicating that he's gonna take a shot at me.

I nod. Terrified.

He proceeds to flip a gentle shot toward my glove(Chico's glove actually), which I nab. This went on for a good ten minutes or so, with Chico beside me cheering me one.

Chico went on to win four Stanley Cups with the Islanders, and Bob Nystrom did the same. I don't know what happened to Ken McPhail, but he sure brightened up the world for one seven year old kid back in 1972.

To the poster before me...I think people have their own associations with each arena based on personal experiences there. I wish to hell I could have seen the Blades play in the Arena, but was just before my time. But I actually did catch the Circus in the old Arena just before it was knocked down, and have fond memories of that night. The building really did have its own charm. When they knocked it down, you probably felt the same way I did when the knocked down the Coliseum.

For hockey to come back here, we'd need to put up a new building, which doesn't look likely under current Mayor's watch. But I gotta say, if we can swing an AHL team somehow down the line, it will be one hell of a rivalry between NH, BPT, and HFD.

I was invited to play a went to Nighthawks hockey school, and got to play pick-up games with Chico Resch, Bob Nystrom, Harr

3/25/09, 4:14 AM


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