The Denver Coliseum was dedicated sixty years ago today, at a celebration dubbed "Salute to Soil." Today, the onetime showplace has become the poor relative of Denver's venues.
Poor in amenities, perhaps, but rich in history.
"The Coliseum is more than just another venue in our city," says Tad Bowman of Arts & Venues Denver. "The Coliseum is a staple in the cityscape and houses decades of history, VIPs, family memories and events that return to our city year after year."
Including the Stock Show, of course, no matter how much organizers of that event may complain about the cramped complex. "The National Western Stock Show is synonymous with Denver and the soul of the Coliseum," says Bowman.
Plans for the Coliseum date back to 1949, when new Mayor Quigg Newton appointed a committee to come up with plans for the venue -- plans prompted by complaints from the National Western Stock Show, which wanted to expand. (Sound familiar? And this was before I-70 bisected the area.) But the city didn't see the Coliseum just as an improved cow palace: It envisioned a showpiece of a facility that would operate year-round and offer "spectacular road shows."
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Three years later, on January 10, 1952, the $3 million, 122,400 square-foot Denver Coliseum was dedicated with the "Salute to Soil," which included an appearance by Hollywood starlet June Haver. The building has been updated over the years -- a major rebranding was tied to the fiftieth anniversary, and the dressing rooms were renovated last year. But the history has never been cleaned up.
And I plan to make some more there today, marking my own "Celebration of Soil" with some down-and-dirty appreciators of history, cowboy culture and beer. Watch for updates here.
More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Michael Hancock celebrates Denver's status as a cowtown: Yeehaw!"