Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sports venues

Right now I want to do a local post that may be of interest to all my friends who stop here.

This past Friday, the Jacobs Field sign came down from the front of the ballpark where the Cleveland Indians play their home games. The park is now called Progressive Field, and that sign will be up before opening day.

The original name of the venue was supposed to be called Indians Park, but then Indians owner, Dick Jacobs purchased naming rights that expired in 2006, so the Indians sold the rights to Progressive Insurance for the next 16 years. I sort of hoped the Eaton Corporation would buy the rights and call the field Eaton Park. The vendors would really have loved the subliminal message.

Of course the natives have become restless because the name has changed. Hello! It's still on the corner of Ontario and Carnegie, and the Tribe still plays there. If you are screaming for tradition, call it League Park.

My biggest problem is the big building next door. It's currently called Quicken Loans Arena. The former name was Gund Arena(which to me sounded like a social disease.) I thought that building was unnecessary. Let me explain.

From 1974-1994, the Cleveland Cavaliers called the Coliseum their home. It was built with private funds by the original owner of the Cavaliers, Nick Mileti. He had moved them from a 40 year old building in downtown Cleveland called the Cleveland Arena. Not everybody was in favor of that move, because it was out of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County to Richfield, in Summit County, which was a 25 minute drive from downtown Cleveland. For 20 years, the Coliseum was home to basketball, hockey, indoor soccer, and World Team Tennis. There was a boxing match where Muhammed Ali fought Chuck Wepner. That fight was the inspiration for the Rocky movies.

There also was ice shows, concerts, and the circus, and a whole bunch of other things.

Like I said before, the building was built with private funds. It was also maintained with private funds. Nick Mileti sold it to the Gund Brothers, who bought it with their own money. The Gunds were lured downtown by the Gateway Commission, who built them a new building, using tax dollars, collected from a "sin tax." The Coliseum was sold to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, who bought it with tax dollars. It was torn down with tax dollars. This paragraph has been very taxing.

Your tax dollars at work.


Bizdecision said...

WIXY...The Richfield Coliseum held a lot of special memories for me. I cannot believe that building lasted only 20 years. What a monumental waste of money! I saw everything from pro wrestling to concerts to the Cavs to arena football (The Cleveland Thunderbolts coached by Earle Bruce). The Coliseum was one of the first arenas in the country to feature loges but they were high up in the arena.

For a trip down memory lane of the Coliseum, I recommend going to get a burger at Whitey's Burgers in Richfield. There are many photos and a lot of memorabilia on the walls of the restaurant which draws huge crowds.

Regarding the naming of Jacobs Field...big deal. The Jacobs Field era is not over. It's just a different name. When a woman gets married, she likely changes her name but it's the same person.

Lastly, my wife saw me reading this post about the Coliseum and other venues and she said, "Let it go!" I can't. What people like me see is that old buildings, especially sports stadiums and arenas, have a certain charm or character to them that cannot be "built" in new venues.

Frasypoo said...

I know about the stadium from Drew Careys show!!!All the way in India !
When my husband and I went on a road trip on the bike we passed it

Amias said...

I love the tribe. I love watching the movies where they are winning. I have always been an Indian fan, but haven't seem them lately. This was an interesting read Cliff.

Bella said...

Sounds like it's all bout POLITICS to me!


Anonymous said...

I certainly miss the Coliseum. Never went to a sports venue there, but certainly heard my share of music. Michael Stanley rocked that joint. Was certainly a HUGE waste tearing it down. I've never been to the old stadium, but have been to (fka) Jacobs Field. Saw my 2nd baseball game there. (the first was at Tiger stadium when I was 12). A few years went by between those games!!

And it seems everything that doesn't make a whole lot of sense has something political behind it!


Pat Jenkins said...

along with being a cavs fan as a youngin (randy bingo smith and nate thurmond some of my favorite players) i also liked the george gervin led san antonio spurs. went to see the spurs play the cavs (world be free days now) in the coliseum. back in the ninth grade. my only trip... last time we went by it i thought it was still up.. true?

74WIXYgrad said...

Pat: The Coliseum was torn down in 1999. the location is now a part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. For what the taxpayers paid for it this piece of land in Richfield, Ohio is truly a "rich field."

Anonymous said...


It is unfortunate that a great building such as the Richfield Coliseum has been eliminated from the local culture after only 20 years of use. The Coliseum was at one time one of the largest privately owned arena in the country. The first of its kind to have luxury boxes and big video (closed circuit) screens at either end of the arena. A great place for concerts and sporting events. You were literally right on top of the action. The only drawback was that concession stands and restrooms were at the first level. I personally enjoyed the drive there from Youngstown vs. going to downtown Cleveland.

I understand that the creation of Gund Arena contributed to the re-birth of downtown Cleveland along with Jacobs Field, The Rock Hall, Browns Stadium...etc...but at a huge cost to the taxpayers. To my knowledge, most of those projects were partially funded with local taxes. Now that Cleveland is again facing financial woes, a population that keep dwindling, an education system pretty much at a loss...makes you think that all of that tax revenue could have been used more wisely. Attracting tourism is one thing, but maintaining and supporting a community would have been the smarter choice.

Anonymous said...

I miss the cavs in richfield. Although I live in Berea, going to games down there was something special. The Q is a great arena but, the the feel is not the same. I went to the final game at the colliseum and the first game at the gund and was sad that first game. The crowd was not the same.