The wild, true saga
of the New Haven Coliseum.
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The Emmy-nominated hit public television documentary Last Days of the Coliseum reveals for the first time the hidden story of the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum, an ungainly place people both loved and hated and now miss more than ever for what it represented to a generation. Relive the memories of the building that millions of baby boomers saw as a second home for their generation, with a DVD of the documentary!
Weaving rare photographs, animation, archival footage and interviews with architect Kevin Roche, concert promoter Jim Koplik and legendary hockey coach Parker Macdonald among many others, acclaimed television producer Rich Hanley reveals surprising stories behind the Coliseum's design, New Haven's long, tortured history with rock music and hockey, and how a soft-spoken usher named Howard Finkel launched a hall-of-fame career as a pro wrestling ring announcer there.
The complete version of Last Days of the Coliseum shows how New Haven emerged at the turn of the twentieth century as a hockey town, first at a long-forgotten indoor rink that opened in 1914 — the same year the Yale Bowl opened — and then beginning in 1927 at the venerable New Haven Arena where the Blades stole the city's heart before the Nighthawks launched their long run at the Coliseum's opening in 1972.
The film details how Mayor Richard C. Lee once sought to ban rock music from New Haven but how it eventually saved this capstone to his 15-year-effort to claw back residents who fled to the suburbs following the Second World War.
In exquisite detail, the documentary examines the cultural shifts and engineering decisions behind the Coliseum's slow destruction, just a few decades after opening to great promise. Among the people interviewed are architect Kevin Roche, concert promoter Jim Koplik, musicians G.E. Smith and Dave Schneider, New Haven hockey historian Kevin Tennyson. Dr. Douglas Rae of Yale University and World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame ring announcer, Howard Finkel.
The documentary Last Days of the Coliseum stands as a historical rendering of a time and place that exist today only in the memories of the baby boomers who exchanged the revolution of the sixties for the pleasures of the seventies. The implosion that felled the Coliseum in 2007 signaled the start of their long exodus from the stage as a primary gathering point of their lives turned to rubble.
[Note: The broadcast version of Last Days of the Coliseum has been edited for time to approximately 90 minutes. The summary reflects the 120-minute complete film available on DVD. Please note the Blu-ray version is sold out and is unavailable at this time.