The Chicken Dance. When it comes to mind — as it so often does — so does the place where we perfected it — Bojangles Coliseum. (Go, Charlotte Checkers!)
The building has gone by many names over its long tenure in the Queen City — The Charlotte Coliseum, Independence Arena, “The Big I,” Cricket Arena — and more. While its exterior signage may have changed over time, its proud dome remains intact.
The original Charlotte Coliseum (here’s a 1966 aerial photo, courtesy of the Robinson-Spangler North Carolina Room Image Collection) was completed on Independence Blvd. in 1966, alongside Ovens Auditorium. A.G. “Gouldie” Odell, founder of the architecture firm now known as Odell, was the lead project designer. It could seat between 10,000 and 14,000 people.
At the time it opened, the Charlotte Coliseum was the largest unsupported steel dome coliseum in the world as well as the first free-spanning dome in the United States. Over its long life, the building has played host to Billy Graham, Elvis, the Grateful Dead and a host of sports teams ranging from the Carolina Cougars basketball team to the Carolina Vipers indoor soccer team to the Charlotte Roller Girls.
When the “new” (now extinct) Charlotte Coliseum opened on Tyvola Road in 1988, the dome on Independence went dormant. But, not for long. It reopened in 1994 after renovations and remained open, even after the Charlotte Checkers moved to the Spectrum Center for a decade.
Renamed “Bojangles Coliseum” in 2008, the former Charlotte Coliseum is now connected to Ovens Auditorium as part of the “BOPlex.”
And, it’s still an awesome place to do the chicken dance in tandem with several thousand screaming Charlotteans.
Photo Credit: PowerWorks
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