Coleman Coliseum

Coleman Coliseum
Coleman Coliseum
aka "Coleman" and "the Coliseum"
Coleman Coliseum.JPG
Former names Memorial Coliseum (1968–1988)
Location 1201 Coliseum Circle
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487
Coordinates 33°12′11″N 87°32′23″W / 33.202939°N 87.539706°W / 33.202939; -87.539706
Broke ground 1966
Opened January 30, 1968
Owner University of Alabama
Operator University of Alabama
Surface Multi-surface
Construction cost $4.2 Million
($26.5 million in 2011 dollars[1])
Architect Davis Architects
Capacity 15,316 (basketball)
15,075 (gymnastics)
Alabama Crimson Tide
(Basketball & Gymnastics)
View from student section in Coleman Coliseum at a Crimson Tide basketball game.

Coleman Coliseum (originally Memorial Coliseum) is a 15,316-seat multi-purpose arena in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and is home to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide men's basketball and gymnastics teams. It has also been home to the Alabama women's basketball and women's volleyball programs in the past.

Before 1988, the building was known as Memorial Coliseum. The arena opened in 1968 as a replacement for Foster Auditorium. The coliseum has hosted numerous superstar performers.

The coliseum is located at the center of the University of Alabama's Athletic Complex, which also includes Sewell-Thomas Stadium, Sam Bailey Track & Field Stadium, the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility, the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility and the football building and practice fields.


Coleman Coliseum is named for Jefferson Jackson Coleman, a prominent University of Alabama alumnus. Jefferson Coleman was the first pledge of Theta Sigma Fraternity that would later become the basis for starting the current National Delta Chi Fraternity Chapter at The University on February 12, 1927. Jefferson went on to serve The University in many capacities, from Business Manager of the football team to Director of Alumni Affairs, for almost 50 years. Until his death in 1995 he was the only person that had attended every Alabama bowl game, starting with the Rose Bowl on January 1, 1926. In 1990, The University honored him by renaming Memorial Coliseum after him. In addition, he served Delta Chi nationally by serving in various positions, most notably as “AA” from 1954 to 1956. For his meritorious and inconspicuous service, Jeff was inducted into The Order of the White Carnation.[2]

The coliseum opened its doors for the first time on January 30, 1968 for the traveling Broadway show The Roar of the Greasepaint - The Smell of the Crowd.[3] Two days later the coliseum held its first men's basketball game against the Samford Bulldogs, replacing Foster Auditorium as the new home for Crimson Tide basketball.

President Ronald Reagan visited Coleman Coliseum during his 1984 presidential re-election campaign.[4]

Since the City of Tuscaloosa does not have a municipal civic center, the demand for events grew rapidly and the Coliseum doubled its capacity in the 1970s due to this. In the 1990s marquee concerts and events that the arena had seen in the previous two decades grew scarce as the facility became more outdated and became mostly devoted to Crimson Tide athletic events. In the hope that the University could pull more excitement for events at the facility, the Coliseum underwent a significant renovation in 2005, which cost over $24 million.

Coleman Coliseum is also noted for the historic Alabama-LSU basketball game that took place on February 7, 1970. LSU's Pete Maravich scored a career-high 69 points in a 106-104 loss to Alabama. Maravich came into the game against Alabama with two pulled muscles and late in the contest, he injured an ankle. Despite the injuries, LSU's senior guard scored 47 points in the second half to finish with 69, setting an NCAA record for most points against a Division I opponent. Maravich broke the record of 68 established by Niagara's Calvin Murphy 14 months earlier. Maravich completed 26 of 57 field goals (45.6 percent) and completed 17 of 21 free throws (81.0 percent). After the game, Maravich pursued a fan before being restrained. Press Maravich, LSU's coach and Pete's father, stated that the fan had hit Pete on the back. Maravich's record lasted almost 21 years, until Kevin Bradshaw of U.S. International scored 72 against Loyola Marymount on January 5, 1991.

Uses and features

Effective with the 2010–11 school year, Coleman Coliseum is home to the Crimson Tide men's basketball and women's gymnastics teams. Other Alabama programs to use the facility have been:

  • Women's basketball: The team played its first season, 1975–76, at Foster Auditorium. It then moved to the Coliseum until extensive interior renovations to Foster Auditorium were completed in 2010, after which the team returned to its original home in 2011.
  • Women's volleyball: The team moved from its original home, also Foster Auditorium, to the Coliseum in 1995. In 2000, it moved to the "CAVE" (Coleman Auxiliary Volleyball Extension), and it returned to Foster Auditorium in 2011.

In addition to sports, Coleman Coliseum has been used for other events including concerts (seating capacity 16,000), commencement ceremonies, alumni gatherings, student convocations, operas, ballets and political rallies. The Coliseum has been used as an annual bass tournament weigh-in spot, and a Travis Tritt music video was filmed here. The stadium hosted the NCAA Basketball Tournament three times, as a regional site in 1974 and as a sub-regional in 1975 and 1981.

The Coliseum houses the athletic department offices for all varsity sports with the exception of football, which is housed in the Mal M. Moore Athletic Facility. It features an elegant suite that serves as the President's reception area, an equipment room, weight rooms, a steam bath, a training room, food service areas, the athletic department's photo studio, and locker room for staff and the athletes.

Coleman is also home to the UA athletic department's ticket office.

It is recognizable on television for its "striped" ceiling (a result of bands of acoustical tiles) and the two scoreboards behind each end line, both of which intersperse ads, video boards and scoring information with the familiar "R-O-L-L T-I-D-E" in large illuminated letters. The letters formerly served as a noise meter during games, with the "E" in "TIDE" being red, as a sort of overload light. Now, all eight letters on both ends are constantly illuminated, and the final E is white, like the rest of the letters. These boards were takin down before the 2009-10 season and replaced with a center-hung scoreboard.


  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2008. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved December 7, 2010.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Coleman Coliseum -—The Official Web site of University of Alabama Athletics!
  4. ^ Ronald Reagan in Tuscaloosa

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