On May 21, 2017, one of the most popular and oldest venues in El Paso will celebrate its 75th anniversary: El Paso County Coliseum.
Originally built to host rodeos (the first event held was the El Paso Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo in June 1942), the ”El Paso County Live Stock & Agricultural Exhibition Building” was established on May 21, 1942.
The El Paso County Commissioners Court approved a resolution Monday, May 15, honoring the El Paso County Coliseum and the historic anniversary.
The El Paso County Coliseum, now under the direction of the El Paso Sports Commission and its President and CEO Brian Kennedy, has entertained millions of fans and hosted thousands of performances and events throughout 75 years, all the while celebrating El Paso’s rich history and culture.
Considered the premier entertainment and sports venue in the Southwest, the El Paso County Coliseum hosts between 125 and 150 performances a year. A variety of entertainers and Grammy Award winners have taken the stage, including music legends Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash, to Latin heavyweights Juan Gabriel and Selena, to pop music superstars Ariana Grande and Ricky Martin, to heavy metal icons Slayer and Slipknot, to Hall of Famers like Green Day and Van Halen.
In addition to the music, sporting events have made the Coliseum their home. Yearly events such as the rodeo, circus, boxing, soccer, festivals, dances, roller derby, Disney On Ice, nationally televised Tuff Hedeman Championship Bull Riding, Oktoberfest, the El Paso Coyotes arena soccer team, the El Paso Rhinos Thorne Cup winning hockey team, the state champion UTEP Miners hockey team, the UTEP Miners men’s basketball team in 1967, and so much more.
On May 21, 1942, County Judge Joseph McGill and Texas Lt. Gov. H.L. Winfield officially dedicated and opened the doors at a grand-opening celebration to a capacity crowd of 7,000.
The festivities featured Fort Bliss soldiers, the Texas College of Mines (now UTEP) band, high school dance groups, Boy Scout troops and a variety of performances. In a newspaper article, the arena, the first-of-its-kind in the Southwest, was said to be “practically the same size as the one in Madison Square Garden.”
The official cost for architect Percy McGhee and contractor R.E. McKee to build the “one-of- a-kind, exposition building” was $321,000 and approved by County Judge McGill and County Commissioners John L. Andreas, M. Scarborough, Ray Sherman and T.M. Risinger.
The El Paso County Coliseum, considered one of the area’s most popular venues, has undergone several changes throughout the years, including renovations to the façade and box office, the addition of a state-of-the-art heating and air-conditioning system, new seating, expanded hallways and upgraded concession stands and restrooms. However, the original look since 1942 has basically stayed intact.
For more photos, videos and additional historical facts, visit the Coliseum’s facebook page.