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Memorial Coliseum (Portland)

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Memorial Coliseum
Portland Memorial Coliseum - Portland Oregon
Location 300 N Winning St (or 1401 N Wheeler Ave), Portland, Oregon 97227
Broke ground February 4, 1959
Opened November, 1960
Owner City of Portland
Operator Global Spectrum
Construction cost $8 million
Architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
Tenants Portland Trail Blazers (National Basketball Association]) (1970-1995)
Portland Winterhawks (WHL) (1976-present)
Portland Buckaroos (WHL) (1960-1975)
Portland Power (American Basketball League) (1996-1998)
Portland Pride (Continental Indoor Soccer League) (1993-1997)
1965 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament
Capacity Basketball: 12,888
Concerts: 13,000

The Memorial Coliseum is an indoor arena located in the oldest part of what is now known as the Rose Quarter area within Portland, Oregon, United States. Known locally as the Coliseum, the arena is the home of the Portland Winterhawks, a major junior ice hockey team, and was the first home of the Portland Trail Blazers of the NBA. The International Style glass and concrete building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in September 2009.


Financed by an $8 million bond approved by voters in 1954, construction was completed by Hoffman Construction in 1960 and it was dedicated on January 8, 1961, to the "advancement of cultural opportunities for the community and to the memory of our veterans of all wars who made the supreme sacrifice." The facility is 100 ft (30 m) tall and has a footprint of about 3.1 acres (13,000 m²). It is sometimes referred to as "The Glass Palace" in Portland.

Original plans called for a building made of wood, plentiful in the region; but cost and safety factors mitigated against this. The structure instead consists of a modernistic gray glass aluminum non load-bearing curtain wall cube around a vast central ovular concrete seating bowl. Four seventy foot concrete piers support the steel roof, with no interior columns required. The exterior appearance, with 80,000 square feet of glass, is of a skyscraper laid on its side. The curtain wall windows inside offers views of the city in all directions. The 1,060 foot long jet-black curtain can be closed to sunlight in 90 seconds. Seating included 9,000 permanent seats which could be expanded to 14,000 with portable chairs and bleachers. At its opening it was called the largest multipurpose facility of its kind in the Pacific Northwest.

The war memorial consists of two black granite walls below ground level and near the main gate. The names of the dead are inscribed in gold paint, now faded with age. There are no dates given, only the names and an inscription: "To the memory of a supreme sacrifice we honor those who gave their lives for God, principle and love of country”.

Occupants and activitiesEdit

The Memorial Coliseum was designed with large doors at both ends to accommodate the floats of the Portland Rose Festival’s Grand Floral Parade. The 4.2 mile long parade begins at the Memorial Coliseum, and paying guests watch the parade cross the coliseum’s floor from reserved seats inside and from bleachers outside. The Rose Festival Queen’s Coronation has also been held in the facility since 1961.

The Memorial Coliseum was the home of the Portland Buckaroos of the Western Hockey League and was the venue for the 1965 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Championship, the site of the second of ten such championships won by UCLA in the 1960s and 1970s.

Portland Winter HawksEdit

In August 2007, The City of Portland and the Portland Winter Hawks reached an agreement to have replay screens installed in the main center ice scoreboard in time for the 2007–08 hockey season. The City will rent the screens, which are owned by the Winter Hawks, for the first year, and either buy them outright or replace them with different screens in 2008–09. Other improvements are also in progress, such as adding a 'beer garden' area, replacing graphic displays, and general painting and repairs.


It was proposed that Memorial Coliseum be demolished to make room for a 9,000 seat new ballpark for Merritt Paulson’s Portland Beavers baseball team, since the team would move from PGE Park to make room for the new Portland Timbers MLS franchise, also a Paulson owned team. This proposal was taken off the table early in May 2009 with Lents Park being re-considered as a ballpark site.

Opposition to razing Memorial Coliseum included some veterans and architectural historians who successfully applied for National Register of Historic Places status for the building. Former governor Vic Atiyeh also opposed demolition if this leaves the memorial to war dead being forgotten. The Memorial Coliseum was given a rank of the highest importance (I) in the city’s Historic Resource Inventory of 1984. The building is currently valued at over $44 million.

Other proposed uses of the facility include turning the site into an entertainment district, or a recreation center, or a retail center, or a multilevel center for arts athletics and education. Another possibility is to update and repair the facility to improve marketability.

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