St. Louis Arena

St. Louis Arena (known as the Checkerdome from 1977 to 1983) was an indoor arena in St. Louis, Missouri. The country's second-largest indoor entertainment venue when it opened in 1929, it was home to the St. Louis Blues and various other sports franchises. The Arena sat across I-64 from Forest Park's Aviation Field.

The Arena hosted conventions, concerts, political rallies, horse shows, circuses, boxing matches, professional wrestling, Roller Derby competitions, indoor soccer matches, the 1973 and 1978 NCAA men's basketball Final Four, the NCAA Men's Midwest Regional finals in 1982, 1984, and 1993, the 1992–94 Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball tournament, and the 1975 NCAA Frozen Four ice hockey finals.

It was demolished in 1999.

St. Louis Arena
The Arena. St. Louis. Mo (63215)
Former namesCheckerdome (1977–1983)
Location5700 Oakland Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Coordinates38°37′45″N 90°16′58″W / 38.62917°N 90.28278°WCoordinates: 38°37′45″N 90°16′58″W / 38.62917°N 90.28278°W
OwnerCity of St. Louis[1]
OperatorCity of St. Louis[1]
CapacityIce hockey:
14,200 (1929–1968)
14,500 (1968–1969)
15,500 (1969–1970)
17,776 (1970–1971)
17,821 (1971–1972)
18,005 (1972–1974)
18,008 (1974–1975)
18,006 (1975–1978)
17,968 (1978–1985)
17,640 (1985–1988)
17,188 (1988–1994)
Construction
Broke ground1927
OpenedSeptember 23, 1929
ClosedMay 23, 1994
DemolishedFebruary 27, 1999
Construction costUS$1.5 million
($21.9 million in 2018 dollars[2])
General contractorBoaz-Kiel Construction Company
Tenants
St. Louis Flyers (AHA/AHL) (1929–1953)
St. Louis Eagles (NHL) (1934–1935)
Chicago Black Hawks (NHL) (occasional use; 1951–1959)
Toledo-St. Louis Mercurys (IHL) (1959–1960)
St. Louis Braves (CHL) (1963–1967)
St. Louis Blues (NHL) (1967–1994)
St. Louis Hawks (NBA) (occasional use; 1955–1968)
St. Louis Bombers (NBA) (1946–1950)
St. Louis Stars (NASL) (1971, 1974)
Spirits of St. Louis (ABA) (1974–1976)
St. Louis Steamers (MISL) (1979–1988)
St. Louis Storm (MISL) (1989–1992)
St. Louis Ambush (NPSL) (1992–1994)
St. Louis Vipers (RHI) (1993–1994)
Saint Louis Billikens men's basketball (NCAA) (1968–1973 and 1991–1994)
Saint Louis Billikens men's ice hockey (1970–1979)

History

At the conclusion of the 1904 World's Fair, St. Louis ended its long tradition of annually hosting large indoor agriculture and horse shows. The city tore down its huge St. Louis Exposition and Music Hall and built the St. Louis Coliseum which was aimed at individual events such as boxing matches.

In 1928 the National Dairy Show offered the city the opportunity to become the permanent location for its annual two-week meeting of dairymen and their prize animals. With no public funds available, a group of businessmen raised private funding for what was projected as a $2 million building. The National Exposition Company in charge of the project hired Gustel R. Kiewitt as architect and the Boaz-Kiel Construction Company as general contractor.

Kiewit's design called for a lamella roof supported by 20 cantilever steel trusses, eliminating the need for view-obscuring internal support pillars. The lamella design consisted of Douglas fir ribs, 3.75 inches thick, 17.5 inches wide and 15 feet long, fitted together diagonally and giving the appearance of fish scales. The huge structure was completed in 1929, just over a year after construction began. At 476 feet long and 276 feet wide, it was behind only Madison Square Garden as the largest indoor entertainment space in the country. A 13-story building could have been erected inside of it.

The Arena was not well-maintained after the 1940s, and its roof was damaged by a February 1959 tornado. After repairs, it was re-opened as the home of the Central Hockey League's St. Louis Braves, a Chicago Black Hawks farm team. The renovations included the removal of the fencing that enforced segregation, dating back to the time of the St. Louis Eagles.[3]

On March 19, 1971 the St. Louis Stars hosted the 1971 NASL Professional Hoc-Soc Tournament here, which was the first indoor soccer tournament sanctioned by a Division One professional league in U.S. history.[4]

In the 1973 NCAA Basketball Final, the UCLA Bruins and legendary coach John Wooden defeated Memphis State 87–66, behind 44 points from Bill Walton who went 21 of 22 from the floor. Over 19,000 were in attendance at the Arena.[5]

On February 13, 1974, the St. Louis Stars played host to the Red Army team at the Arena in the final match of Russian squad's three-city indoor soccer tour of North America. Attendance for the match was 12,241.[6][7][8][9]

In the 1978 NCAA Basketball Final, the Kentucky Wildcats and coach Joe B. Hall defeated Duke 94-88, led by the 41-point effort of Jack Givens.[10]

From 1980 to 1993, St. Louis Arena was the site of the Braggin' Rights basketball game played between the University of Missouri and the University of Illinois.

Spirits of St. Louis – ABA Era (1974–76)

After the 1968 departure of the NBA's St. Louis Hawks, the Spirits of St. Louis brought professional basketball back to St. Louis when the Carolina Cougars franchise moved to St. Louis. The Spirits played in the Arena for the final two seasons of the American Basketball Association (ABA), 1974–75 and 1975–76.[11] Their announcer on KMOX radio was a young Bob Costas. Young players such as Steve Jones ("Snapper", now a TV analyst), Marvin Barnes ("Bad News), Maurice Lucas and Moses Malone all played for the Spirits during their tenure at the Arena. The team was not included in the ABA–NBA merger in 1976, when the Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, Denver Nuggets and New York Nets joined the NBA. The Spirits and the Kentucky Colonels were disbanded.[12] Spirits owners Ozzie and Daniel Silna pulled off a coup in their dissolution agreement when the ABA–NBA merger was finalized. The Silnas negotiated to receive a portion of TV monies in perpetuity, a deal that netted them over $250 million[13] before they were bought out by the NBA in 2014 for a reported $500 million.[14]

The St. Louis Blues era (1967–1994)

Ticket All Star Game 1970
Ticket All Star Game 1970

By the time the NHL's St. Louis Blues began playing at the Arena, it had fallen into such poor condition that it had to be heavily renovated in time for the 1967–68 season. As a condition of getting the expansion franchise, Blues owner Sid Salomon Jr. purchased the Arena from the Chicago Black Hawks, and spent several million dollars renovating the building and adding some 3,000 seats to bring the total to almost 15,000. It never stopped being renovated from that day on, and held almost 20,000 seats by the time the Blues left the Arena in 1994. Many fans considered its sight lines the best of any arena in the league, which is remarkable considering that it was not originally built for hockey. It was also known as one of the loudest arenas in the league.

In 1977, the Arena and the Blues were purchased by Ralston Purina, which rechristened the building the Checkerdome after the company's checkerboard logo. By 1983, the cereal and pet food corporation had lost interest in the Blues and the Arena, and forfeited the team to the league. The team was nearly moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan before it was purchased by Harry Ornest, a Los Angeles-based businessman, who promptly returned the Arena to its original name.

After the Blues moved to their new home, the venue now known as Enterprise Center, during the 1994 offseason, the final event at the St. Louis Arena was a concert by Christian artist Carman Licciardello.[15]

Closure and demolition (1994–1999)

St. Louis Arena
St. Louis Arena on February 27, 1999, the day of its controlled demolition

As a condition for the private financing of the demolition of city-owned Kiel Auditorium and the construction of privately owned Kiel Center (now the Enterprise Center) on the same Downtown site, local business group Civic Progress, Inc. insisted that the Dogtown-neighborhood would not be allowed to compete with Kiel Center for any events, while the insurance burden for the building was left with the City of St. Louis. With no income allowed for the Arena while insurance expenses continued, the building sat vacant while pressure built on the city government to either make it revenue-producing (essentially impossible under the Civic Progress-imposed non-compete clause) or raze it. The arena remained vacant for nearly five years.

Public opinion was overwhelmingly in favor of saving "the Old Barn" as it was affectionately nicknamed. When local artist Bob Cassilly (founder of the private, non-profit City Museum) approached the city government with a $200,000 down payment toward purchasing the building, Civic Progress pressured the city government to hurriedly demolish it, which they did, over general public objection, through a controlled implosion on February 27, 1999.

The Arena site today

A business/residential development, The Highlands, now occupies the land that the St. Louis Arena called home, including the following:

  • Three apartment buildings featuring loft-style units
  • A Hampton Inn hotel, a brew pub, a coffee shop, Children's Miracle Network Hospitals of Greater St. Louis, and a yoga studio
  • 1001 Highlands Plaza Drive West, an office building home to—among other businesses—the St. Louis group of iHeartMedia's radio stations (KSLZ, KATZ-FM, KLLT, KATZ, KLOU, and KSD). A grass plaza, with an oval grass section surrounded by concrete sidewalks now sits at 1001 Highlands Plaza Drive West at the location where the original arena stood.

Sports teams

Sports teams that called the Arena home include:

Concerts

References

  • Finnigan, Joan (1992). Old Scores, New Goals: The Story of the Ottawa Senators. Quarry Press. ISBN 1-55082-041-9.
  1. ^ a b "St. Louis Arena".
  2. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  3. ^ Former Eagles player Frank Finnigan recalls the fencing while he played there in [Finnigan], pg. 123.
  4. ^ Flachsbart, Harold (March 19, 1971). "Pro Soccer Sends Up Trial Balloon Tonight". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. p. 23. Retrieved August 14, 2016.
  5. ^ "ESPN.com - Page2 - Kings of the Big Dance".
  6. ^ "The Milwaukee Journal - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  7. ^ "NASL-St. Louis Stars Friendlies".
  8. ^ "International Matches in St. Louis". SoccerMadeinStLouis.com. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on May 18, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2014.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "1978 NCAA Basketball Tournament Bracket and Results - databaseSports.com".
  11. ^ "Remember the ABA: Spirits of St. Louis".
  12. ^ "Remember the ABA: Houston Mavericks/Carolina Cougars/Spirits of St. Louis Year-by-Year Notes".
  13. ^ Sandomir, Richard (September 6, 2012). "Former A.B.A. Owners Ozzie and Daniel Silna Earn Millions From N.B.A." – via NYTimes.com.
  14. ^ Mandell, Nina (January 17, 2014). "Ending the greatest sports deal of all time will reportedly cost the NBA at least $500 million". USA Today. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  15. ^ "PowWeb" (PDF). www.stlmedia.net. Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  16. ^ "Led Zeppelin Arena (St. Louis) - April 15, 1977". Led Zeppelin - Official Website. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  17. ^ "St. Louis Arena - May 15, 1977 | Grateful Dead". www.dead.net. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  18. ^ Matt. "Pink Floyd news :: Brain Damage - 1987 tour dates/concerts". www.brain-damage.co.uk. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
  19. ^ "Van Halen Tour: 1988/1989". www.vharchives.com. Retrieved May 21, 2018.
Preceded by
first arena
Home of the
St. Louis Blues

1967 – 1994
Succeeded by
Kiel Center
Preceded by
Boston Garden
Boston, Massachusetts
Host of the
Frozen Four

1975
Succeeded by
University of Denver Arena
Denver, Colorado
Preceded by

Sports Arena
The Omni
NCAA Men's Division I
Basketball Tournament
Finals Venue

1973
1978
Succeeded by

Greensboro Coliseum
Special Events Center
Preceded by

Montreal Forum
Hartford Civic Center
Host of the
NHL All-Star Game

1970
1988
Succeeded by

Boston Garden
Northlands Coliseum
Preceded by
Milwaukee Arena
Occasional Home of the
St. Louis Hawks

1955 – 1968
Succeeded by
Alexander Memorial Coliseum
Preceded by
Ottawa Auditorium
Home of the
St. Louis Eagles

1934 – 1935
Succeeded by
last arena
1967–68 NHL season

The 1967–68 NHL season was the 51st season of the National Hockey League. The league expanded to 12 teams, putting the new six in the newly created West Division, while the original six were all placed in the newly created East Division. The regular season schedule was expanded to 74 games per team. The Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup against the new St. Louis Blues, in four games.

1969–70 NHL season

The 1969–70 NHL season was the 53rd season of the National Hockey League. For the third straight season, the St. Louis Blues reached the Stanley Cup finals, and for the third straight year, the winners of the expansion West Division were swept four games to none. This time, however, it was at the hands of the Boston Bruins, as the defending champions Montreal Canadiens narrowly missed the playoffs, something that did not happen again for the next quarter century. With both the Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs missing the 1970 Stanley Cup playoffs, it was the first time in league history that neither of the NHL's two Canadian teams (at the time) qualified for the playoffs (something that has happened only once since, in 2016, when all of the league's then seven Canadian teams missed the playoffs). It was also the final season that teams wore their colored jerseys at home until the 2003–04 season.

1972 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

The 1972 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament was the first CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. It was played between March 3 and March 4, 1972, at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. Ohio State won the inaugural tournament, defeating Saint Louis 3–0 in the championship game.

1973 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

The 1973 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament was the second CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. It was played between March 2 and March 4, 1973, at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. Bowling Green won the tournament, finishing the round robin with a 2–0 record.

1974 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

The 1974 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament was the third CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. It was played between March 8 and March 10, 1974, at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. Saint Louis won the tournament, defeating Lake Superior State 8–3 in the championship game.

1974–75 NCAA Division I men's ice hockey season

The 1974–75 NCAA Division I men's ice hockey season began in October 1974 and concluded with the 1975 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament's championship game on March 15, 1975 at the St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. This was the 28th season in which an NCAA ice hockey championship was held and is the 81st year overall where an NCAA school fielded a team.

1975 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

The 1975 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament was the fourth CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. It was played between March 7 and March 8, 1975, at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri. Saint Louis won the tournament, defeating Lake Superior State 8–3 in the championship game for the second consecutive year.

1975 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

The 1975 NCAA Men's Division I Ice Hockey Tournament was the culmination of the 1974–75 NCAA Division I men's ice hockey season, the 28th such tournament in NCAA history. It was held between March 13 and 15, 1975, and concluded with Michigan Tech defeating Minnesota 6-1. All games were played at the St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri.

This is the first time since 1949 that all four teams in the tournament had played in the previous championship. It has not happened since (as of 2017).

1976 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

The 1976 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament was the fifth CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. It was played between March 18 and March 21, 1976. All games were played at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri, the home venue of the St. Louis Billikens.

1977 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament

The 1977 CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament was the sixth CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament. It was played between March 4 and March 12, 1977. All games were played at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri, the home venue of the St. Louis Billikens. By winning the tournament, Bowling Green received the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's first invitation to play in the NCAA Division I Tournament, a first round game created to allow entrance for the CCHA.

1992 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament

The 1992 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament was played at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri after the conclusion of the 1991–1992 regular season. The Southwest Missouri State Bears won their 1st MVC Tournament title to earn an automatic bid to the 1992 NCAA Tournament.

1993 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament

The 1993 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament was played at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri after the conclusion of the 1992–1993 regular season. The Southern Illinois Salukis won their 2nd MVC Tournament title to earn an automatic bid to the 1993 NCAA Tournament. Ashraf Amaya of Southern Illinois was named tournament MVP.

1994 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament

The 1994 Missouri Valley Conference Men's Basketball Tournament was played at St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri after the conclusion of the 1993–1994 regular season. The Southern Illinois Salukis won their 3rd MVC Tournament title to earn an automatic bid to the 1994 NCAA Tournament. Cam Johnson of Northern Iowa was named tournament MVP.

2020 National Hockey League All-Star Game

The 2020 National Hockey League All-Star Game is scheduled to be held on January 26, 2020, at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri, the home of the St. Louis Blues. The city previously hosted the NHL All-Star Game in 1970 and 1988 at the former St. Louis Arena. The NHL All-Star Skills Competition is scheduled for the night before on January 25.

23rd National Hockey League All-Star Game

The 23rd National Hockey League All-Star Game was held in the St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, home of the St. Louis Blues, on January 20, 1970. It was the first time the All-Star Game was held at the St. Louis Arena. The East Division All-Stars defeated the West Division All-Stars 4–1. Bobby Hull was named the game's most valuable player.

It was also the first NHL All-Star Game carried live on American network television, airing on CBS.

39th National Hockey League All-Star Game

The 39th National Hockey League All-Star Game was held in the St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, home to the St. Louis Blues, on February 9, 1988.

Braggin' Rights

Braggin' Rights (known for sponsorship reasons as Bud Light Braggin' Rights, previously Busch Braggin' Rights) is the annual men's college basketball contest between the University of Illinois Fighting Illini of the Big Ten Conference and University of Missouri Tigers of the SEC.

First played in 1980, the game takes place in St. Louis, Missouri, during the month of December. From 1980 to 1993, it was played at the St. Louis Arena, and since 1994, it has been played at Enterprise Center. St. Louis is within convenient driving distance of the two schools' home cities of Columbia, Missouri (2 hours), and Champaign, Illinois (2 hours); many students at both schools come from the area; both schools have a large alumni base in greater St. Louis; and the Enterprise Center has a larger capacity than either school's home arena (State Farm Center for Illinois and Mizzou Arena for Missouri). It is traditionally held over the students' holiday break near the end of December and is nationally televised. One of the most closely contested games in the series was the final game held at the St. Louis Arena on December 22, 1993. Missouri defeated Illinois 108-107 in a game that lasted three overtimes.

Before 2000, the series was fairly evenly matched, with Illinois leading the series 11-8 before the game held in 2000. However, the Illini went on a decade-long winning streak under Bill Self and Bruce Weber, while at the same time Missouri basketball floundered with Quin Snyder as coach. Tiger fan frustration with not being able to win one of their marquee games boiled over so much that in Snyder's final game, an 82-50 drubbing in 2005, one fan threw a full tub of popcorn on him while he was exiting the arena. Since hiring Mike Anderson in 2006, though, Missouri's fortunes took an upward turn, culminating in an emphatic win in 2009 with the Enterprise Center playing Prince's "1999" following the victory, as a sly reference to the last time Missouri had won in St. Louis.

The game was not played in 1982, but has been played every year since 1983. The name of the victorious team is engraved on a large trophy that, unlike other college rivalry trophies, does not travel home with the winning team. The trophy is displayed in a glass case in the Enterprise Center lobby, where it occupies either an orange-and-blue or black-and-gold space in the cabinet, depending on who won. The other side has a plastic square reading "THE TROPHY BELONGS HERE NEXT YEAR" in the position where the trophy would go.

Before 1980, the Tigers and the Illini met sporadically. The official first meeting between the two schools occurred on December 21, 1932, where the Tigers hosted the Illini at Brewer Fieldhouse. Illini head coach Craig Ruby, a former star and coach at Mizzou, led his team to victory, 36-24. The following year, the Illini hosted the Tigers at Huff Hall, winning again by 36-24. Over the next half-century, the two teams met nine more times, culminating with a back-and-forth series called the Show-Me Classic. This event began in December 1976 in Columbia, Missouri, at the Hearnes Center, where Missouri defeated Illinois, 76-75. Over the next three years (1977-79) the two teams reciprocated home courts.

This series was replaced by the Braggin' Rights series on a neutral court sponsored by Anheuser-Busch for the 1980-81 season.

Other Mizzou and Illini teams now play Braggin' Rights games, most notably football.

List of CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament champions

The Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) was a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I ice hockey-only conference based in Farmington Hills, Michigan. At the completion of each regular season, it held the CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournament to determine its conference champion. The tournament champions received the Mason Cup.

The tournament has had a variety of formats over its existence.

The tournament was first hosted at the St. Louis Arena in St. Louis, Missouri with Ohio State winning the inaugural tournament. Michigan State won the most CCHA Men's Ice Hockey Tournaments with eleven while Michigan appeared in the most championship game appearances with seventeen. Ron Mason has coached thirteen championship teams, more than any other CCHA coach, and also has the most championship game appearances as coach with seventeen. The Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan hosted the tournament from 1982 to 2013. The St. Louis Arena hosted the tournament six times, while the BGSU Ice Arena in Bowling Green, Ohio and Lakeview Arena in Marquette, Michigan each hosted the championship game twice.

In the final CCHA championship tournament in 2013, Notre Dame defeated Michigan.

St. Louis Flyers

The St. Louis Flyers were a minor league ice hockey team, based in St. Louis, Missouri, playing home games at the St. Louis Arena in the Cheltenham, St. Louis neighborhood, across from Forest Park.

The Flyers played fourteen seasons in the American Hockey Association from 1928 to 1942, and played nine seasons in the American Hockey League from 1944–45 and 1952–53. This was St. Louis' first and only AHL team.

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