Tag Archives: memphis fairgrounds

From John Lennon to Jerry Lawler – The Mid-South Coliseum

If you have lived in Memphis for a while you have some special memories of things that happened inside the Mid-South Coliseum.  I always thought the building looked more like a spacecraft than a multi-purpose arena – and it still does look it could launch at any moment.

Mid-South Coliseum

The building opened in 1963.  The first concert I remember seeing there was the Animals. They were the opening act.  I didn’t really care much about the headliner, Herman’s Hermits.  The last time I was in the building was for my son George’s graduation from Overton High School in 2005.  And many legendary things happened (not necessarily with me in attendance)  in between:  The Beatles, Elvis, the Who, Alice Cooper,  Dylan, Lynyrd Skynyrd…. and on and on.  I remember some great performances and have forgotten others.  I also remember some great and scary times times back stage.

Through this portal on the southeast side  passed the biggest names of the rock era,

Mid-South Coliseum (2)

the mainstream Vegas-type entertainers of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, and the superstars of theheyday of  professional wrestling.  Weekly Monday Night Wrestling consistently sold out the 11,000+ seat Coliseum for years, until  insurance discomfort over blood (real) and other body fluids put an end to the venue for real wrestling  and the cartoon world of national promotion WWF took over the wrestling audience.  Oh yeah, I am not a sports guy, but the UM Tigers and Memphis TAMS B-ball teams played there, and there was the River Kings Hockey team, rodeos, and I think they even had monster truck shows in there too.

I could go on about the great shows I saw, being ringside when Jerry Lawler threw fire, busting my butt many times on the ice skating rink,  but I will stop.

If you have a great memory of the Coliesum, please share it in the comments.

I started this post after a drive around the Memphis Fairgrounds yesterday.  The LibertyLand section is being dismantled;  the livestock barns and other buildings will probably be leveled in the next phase.  I just read that the management company will not extend Memphis Roller Derby’s lease.  So what’s the plan for the Coliseum?

Demolition has begun at the Fairgrounds

Libertyland (1)The backhoes and trackhoes are working away in LibertyLand, digging out out the theme park and the history that went before it.  On the east side, excavation is happening with the old log flume ride in the background.  The signature Revolution ride was sold and dismantled a few years ago.

The Zippin’ Pippin has looked strangely ricketZippin Pippin Memphisy ever since I was a kid.  It’s probably impossible to get a picture of the old wooden rollercoaster with the all vertical members looking plumb, because, well, they aren’t.  I don’t know the final word on whether the powers that be intend to demolish or carefully dismantle this Memphis landmark.

There are some Fairgrounds pictures in my Flickr photostream, shots of empty lifestock barns, the arena building where I got to meet Roy Rogers, a one room school house on blocks that was once the school for Mud Island or Presidents Island – Vance Lauderdale would know which.  There is a time capsule buried near the west main entrance.

Things change.  I remember the Fairgrounds before Libertyland, the Liberty Bowl Stadium and the Mid-SouthColiseum.  Let’s hope that the final evolution of this great central city space is a good thing for everyone in our city.

Everyone wins in a community that thrives.
Tara Hunt

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...