New Haven Coliseum

New Haven, Connecticut, USA

Demolished 2007

The Disappointed Tourist: New Haven Coliseum, Ellen Harvey, 2023. Oil and acrylic on Gessoboard, 18 x 24″ (46 x 61 cm). Photograph: Etienne Frossard.

The New Haven Coliseum (officially, the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum) was a sports and entertainment arena located in downtown New Haven built to replace the old New Haven Arena. It was designed by architect Kevin Roche of Roche-Dinkeloo and was unusual in that the parking was located on top of the arena due to the high water table which made underground parking impractical. Construction began in 1968 and was completed in 1972. It held over 11 thousand people at capacity but suffered from competition from other more attractive venues nearby and by the 1980s was already in disrepair, with large pieces of concrete occasionally falling from the building. It was officially closed in 2002 and demolished by implosion in 2007.

In my youth I went to see a number of memorable concerts at the Coliseum, perhaps most notably David Bowie during his “Diamond Dogs” tour in 1974. Its Brutalism was the perfect setting for Bowie and his band. At one point in the concert Bowie was lifted up over the audience by a large cherry picker. For a kid used to hippie musicians this was radical stuff! The rust from the Corten steel that the Coliseum was constructed with stained many neighboring buildings as it was blown around by rain and wind, and it’s vertiginous, double helix ramps were a challenge to even those who drove on them while not under the influence of illegal substances. To the left of the Coliseum another Roche-Dinkeloo building can be seen: the Knights of Columbus headquarters, which is still standing. Also made with Corten steel and brown glazed brick, it was the perfect vertical foil to the horizontal mass of the Coliseum. Richard K.

Also requested by Anon.