Richfield Coliseum
The Palace on the Prairie[1]
Aerial view of the Coliseum and neighboring farms in 1975
Address2923 Streetsboro Road
LocationRichfield Township, Ohio
Coordinates41°14′43″N 81°35′38″W / 41.24528°N 81.59389°W / 41.24528; -81.59389Coordinates: 41°14′43″N 81°35′38″W / 41.24528°N 81.59389°W / 41.24528; -81.59389
OwnerGund Business Enterprises, Inc.
OperatorGund Business Enterprises, Inc.
CapacityBasketball: 20,273
Ice hockey: 18,544
Broke groundMarch 16, 1973
OpenedOctober 26, 1974[2]
ClosedSeptember 24, 1994[2]
DemolishedMarch–May 1999
Construction costUS$36 million[2]
($220 million in 2021 dollars[3])
ArchitectGeorge E. Ross Architects, Inc.[4]
Cleveland Crusaders (WHA) (1974–1976)
Cleveland Cavaliers (NBA) (1974–1994)
Cleveland Nets (WTT) (1975–1977)
Cleveland Barons (NHL) (1976–1978)
Cleveland Force (MISL) (1978–1988)
Cleveland Crunch (MISL) (1989–1992)
Cleveland Lumberjacks (IHL) (1992–1994)
Cleveland Thunderbolts (AFL) (1992–1994)

Richfield Coliseum, also known as the Coliseum at Richfield, was an indoor arena located in Richfield Township, between Cleveland and Akron, Ohio. It opened in 1974 as a replacement for the Cleveland Arena, and had a seating capacity of 20,273 for basketball. It was the main arena for the Northeast Ohio region until 1994, when it was replaced by Gund Arena in downtown Cleveland. The Coliseum stood vacant for five years before it was purchased and demolished in 1999 by the National Park Service. The site of the building was converted to a meadow and is now part of Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The arena was primarily the home to the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA), developed by Cavaliers owner Nick Mileti, who also owned the Cleveland Crusaders of the World Hockey Association. Over the years it had additional tenants such as the Cleveland Barons of the National Hockey League, Cleveland Force of Major Indoor Soccer League, Cleveland Crunch of Major Indoor Soccer League, the Cleveland Lumberjacks of the International Hockey League, and the Cleveland Thunderbolts of the Arena Football League. In a 2012 interview with ESPN's Bill Simmons, basketball great Larry Bird said that it was his favorite arena to play in. The Coliseum was the site of Bird's final game in the NBA. Richfield Coliseum hosted the 1987, 1988, and 1992 editions of WWE's Survivor Series pay-per-view.

It hosted the 1981 NBA All-Star Game; The Buckeye Homecoming, the 1983 professional boxing match between Michael Dokes and Gerrie Coetzee; and the 1985 MISL All Star Game. It was also the site of the March 24, 1975 boxing match between Muhammad Ali and Chuck Wepner, which in part inspired the movie Rocky.[5]

The Coliseum was a regular concert venue, with its first event being a concert by Frank Sinatra and the last being a concert by Roger Daltrey in 1994, which was also the last official event at the arena. The first rock concert at the Richfield Coliseum was Stevie Wonder in October 1974.[6]


The arena, which opened in 1974, replaced the Cleveland Arena, which had 12,500+ boxing capacity, 10,000+ otherwise. The new arena seated 20,273 for basketball and 18,544 for hockey, and was one of the first indoor arenas to contain luxury boxes. Cavaliers founder Nick Mileti was the driving force behind the Coliseum's construction, believing that its location in northern Summit County south of Cleveland near the confluence of the Ohio Turnpike and Interstates 77 and 271 was ideally suited given the growth of urban sprawl. The Coliseum was built in Richfield to draw fans from both of Northeast Ohio's major cities, as nearly five million Ohioans lived within less than an hour's drive (in good weather) from the Coliseum. While the arena's location hindered attendance somewhat, nevertheless, the Cavaliers' average attendance was over 18,000 per game each of the last two seasons at the Coliseum.

The Force also drew well at Richfield: 20,174 attended when Cleveland took on Minnesota on April 6, 1986, still the largest regular-season crowd (and the third-largest overall) ever to see an indoor soccer match in the US.[7]

The World Wrestling Federation also promoted several notable shows including: Saturday Night's Main Event VII (taped September 13, 1986); Survivor Series (1987); Survivor Series (1988); and Survivor Series (1992)

Attendance hindrances

Though a large arena at the time of construction, it had only one concourse for both levels, which made for very cramped conditions when attendance was anywhere close to capacity. The Coliseum's real drawback was that the revenue-producing luxury suites were at the uppermost level and, as such, were the worst seats in the house. This situation was rectified at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, where the suites are much closer to the playing area.

Also hurting attendance was the arena's location at the intersection of Interstate 271 and Ohio State Route 303, which was a rural, two-lane highway outside of Richfield. The rural location made the Coliseum inaccessible to anyone without an automobile, and as the only true access to the arena was directly at the interchange, traffic became an issue with every Coliseum event, especially when attendance was anywhere near capacity. Lake-effect snow from Lake Erie provided another obstacle to drivers during the winter months.

Demolition and environmental remediation

The Coliseum's fate was sealed in 1990, when voters in Cuyahoga County approved a new sin tax to fund the Gateway Sports and Entertainment Complex, which included Gund Arena, the original name of what is now Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. The Cavaliers moved to Gund Arena at the beginning of the 1994–95 season.

In 1997, the hardwood floor was sold to Grace Christian School of Staunton, Virginia.[8]

After being vacant for five years, the arena was torn down in 1999, between March 30[9] and May 21,[10] and the arena footprint and surrounding parking areas were allowed to be returned to woodland as part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area, now Cuyahoga Valley National Park.[11] Two years later it was noted that the site appeared to have no trace of the former building,[12] although a widened section of Route 303, as well as the remains of the parking lot entrance, reveal its location.

The site is now a grassy meadow and has become an important area for wildlife. Birds such as the Eastern meadowlark, bobolink, and various sparrows now inhabit the area. This has caused the site to become popular with local birders.[13][14] Other birds that are frequently seen are American goldfinch, red-winged blackbird, turkey vulture (buzzard), red-tailed hawk, and American kestrel.[citation needed]

Seating capacity

The seating capacity for basketball was as follows:[15]

Years Capacity


The following is a listing of concerts that took place during the time that the Coliseum was in operation:[16]


  1. ^ Chakerian, Peter (September 24, 2014). "Remembering the Richfield Coliseum: From 1974 to 1994, 'The Palace on the Prairie' was Northeast Ohio's sports, entertainment mecca". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c The Richfield Coliseum
  3. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  4. ^ "Levin Serious About New Arena for Hub". United Press International. May 12, 1977. Retrieved March 28, 2012.
  5. ^ Chuck Wepner's official website. Retrieved January 12, 2008.
  6. ^ Scott, Jane. "Stevie Wonder rocks Coliseum" The Plain Dealer October 29, 1974: B2
  7. ^ Biggest indoor soccer crowds (from
  8. ^ Sladek, Jon (October 29, 2014). "Remnants of Richfield". Cleveland Scene. Cleveland, Ohio.
  9. ^ Albrecht, Brian E. (March 30, 1999). "Death of the Palace on the Prairie". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  10. ^ "Ruins of the Coliseum". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland. May 22, 1999. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  11. ^ Chilcote, Lee (November 1, 1999). "The Rise and Fall of Richfield Coliseum". Land & People. The Trust for Public Land. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  12. ^ Albrecht, Brian E. (June 25, 2001). "Greening of the Coliseum". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland. Retrieved September 9, 2008.
  13. ^ McCarty, James F. (June 5, 2012). "Coliseum Grasslands Offer Intimate Views of Some of the Most-threatened Bird Species: Aerial View". The Plain Dealer. Cleveland. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  14. ^ "Former Coliseum Property". Cuyahoga Valley National Park website (National Park Service). Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  15. ^ "2014–15 Cleveland Cavaliers Media Guide". National Basketball Association. ((cite web)): Missing or empty |url= (help)
  16. ^ "Richfield Coliseum, Richfield, OH, USA Concert Setlists |".
  17. ^ "Monkees 1986 Reunion Tour | The Monkees Live Almanac".
Events and tenants
Preceded by Home of the
Cleveland Cavaliers

Succeeded by
Preceded by Home of the
Cleveland Barons

Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of the
NBA All-Star Game

Succeeded by