The Dane County Veterans Memorial Coliseum housed Wisconsin Badger hockey for most of the modern era, from 1967 to 1998. In 1998, the team moved to the newer, on campus Kohl Center. Still, occasional scheduling conflicts between the University and Wisconsin state high school basketball, hockey, and wrestling tournaments forces the Badgers to leave their new home and return to the storied Coliseum for WCHA first round playoffs, as occured in 2005.
The Coliseum, now officially known as the Veterans Memorial Coliseum at the Alliant Energy Center, was once one of the great college hockey barns. The Coliseum's capacity of 8,100 made it the largest college hockey arenas in the nation during its prime. The building is very similar to many other arenas and stadiums built in the era, featuring a circular upper deck and very shallow angle seating along the sides of the rink. Rumor has it that Wisconsin coach "Badger" Bob Johnson could get a recruit to sign to play for the Badgers just by showing him the Coliseum, noting the immense size and unparalleled luxury (padded seats!).
Still, the size of the Coliseum would have meant nothing if it were not for the fans. Badger fans quickly latched on to the growing success of the new hockey team in the late 1960s and early 1970s and would fill the arena regularly. In the 31 full seasons in the Coliseum, the Badgers led the nation in attendance for 24 of them, only surpassed in the mid 1990s by the larger capacity of Minnesota's new Mariucci Arena. Since moving to the Kohl Center, UW has regained the attendance crown.
However, sheer numbers weren't the only factor in the Coliseum's lore, as the Badger faithful earned a reputation as some of the wildest and loudest fans around. The origin of calling an opposing goalie a "sieve," now a fixture across the entire sport of hockey, has been attributed to the students at the Coliseum by Sports Illustrated. The arena was also dubbed "The Montreal Forum of College Hockey." The fan base was also well lubed, due to the Coliseum's infamous beer gardens. Beer was not allowed into the seating bowl, creating huge rushes towards the concourses during intermissions, where some fans would try to down as many brews as possible before returning to their seats for the game. Some took it so far as to dub themselves the 'Second Period Club,' a group that would skip the entire second period in order to drink more, and then return for the concluding period fully inebriated and ready to heckle the opposing team. Alcohol was not the only stimulant. The UW Band would also rile up the crowd. The band earned a reputation as one of the most involved bands in the nation. From their bleachers perched behind the goal, the trombones would sometimes reach ther slides over the edge of the glass and empty their spit valves on the opposing goaltender, should he stray too far behind his net.
Even as the Badgers have moved to their new home, the roots in the Coliseum are still strong. The University maintains a practice facility across the street from the Coliseum, and the venerable arena has hosted several WCHA first round playoff games, as well as some UW women's hockey games. Since moving out, renovations have shrunk the ice sheet size from the old 200'x100' to an NHL standard 200'x85'. Even as the Kohl Center builds its own reputation as a tough place for opposing teams to visit, many Badger fans think back with admiration about the old days in the "Great Dane," the building that was the home of the Badgers for the first five of their six NCAA championships.