Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Dec 31, 2013 20:25:04 GMT -6
The International Amphitheatre was an indoor arena, located in Chicago, Illinois, United States, between 1934 and 1999. It was located on the west side of Halsted Street, at 42nd Street, on the city's south side, adjacent to the Union Stock Yards.
The arena was built for $1.5 million, by the stock yard company, principally to host the International Livestock Exhibition. The arena replaced Dexter Park, a horse-racing track that had stood on the site for over 50 years prior to its destruction by fire in May 1934. The completion of the Amphitheater ushered in an era where Chicago reigned as a convention capital. In an era before air conditioning and space for the press and broadcast media were commonplace, the International Amphitheater was among the first arenas to be equipped with these innovations.
The arena, which seated 9,000, was the first home of the Chicago Packers of the NBA during 1961-62, before changing their name to the Chicago Zephyrs and moving to the Chicago Coliseum for their second season. It was also the home of the Chicago Bulls during their inaugural season of 1966-67; they also played only one game in the Chicago Coliseum, a playoff game in their first season, as no other arena was available for a game versus the St. Louis Hawks. Afterwards, the Bulls then moved permanently to Chicago Stadium, not the Coliseum.
The Amphitheatre was also the primary home of the Chicago Cougars of the WHA from 1972-1975. It was originally intended to be only a temporary home for the Cougars, but the permanent solution, the Rosemont Horizon, was not completed until 1980, five years after the team folded and a year after the WHA had gone out of business.
The Amphitheatre hosted several national American political conventions:
1952 Republican National Convention (nominated Dwight D. Eisenhower for President and Richard M. Nixon for Vice President; ticket won) 1952 Democratic National Convention (nominated Adlai E. Stevenson for President and John J. Sparkman for Vice President; ticket lost) 1956 Democratic National Convention (nominated Adlai E. Stevenson for President and Estes Kefauver for Vice President; ticket lost) 1960 Republican National Convention (nominated Richard M. Nixon for President and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. for Vice President; ticket lost) 1968 Democratic National Convention (nominated Hubert H. Humphrey for President and Edmund S. Muskie for Vice President; ticket lost) The 1952 Republican National Convention was held at what was then called the Chicago Amphitheater, and had the distinction of being the first political convention broadcast live by television with special studio facilities provided for all the major networks. The 1968 convention was one of the most tumultuous political conventions in American history, noted by anti-war protests.
Prior to that, the Amphitheatre was also noted for being the site of one of Elvis Presley's most notable concerts, in 1957, with the singer wearing his now legendary gold lame suit for the first time.
On September 5, 1964 and August 12, 1966, The Beatles performed at the Amphitheatre. The 1966 show was the first show on their last tour.
In October 1978, English rock group UFO recorded Strangers In The Night at the International Amphitheatre.
The Stock Yards closed in 1971, but the Amphitheatre stayed open, hosting rock concerts, college basketball and IHSA playoff games, circuses, religious gatherings, and other events. The shift of many conventions and trade shows to the more modern and more conveniently-located lakefront McCormick Place convention center during the Sixties and Seventies began the International Amphitheater's decline, and the Amphitheater's business dried up as new convention centers and concert arenas opened in the suburbs.
In December 1981, Joe Frazier had his final boxing match at the Amphitheatre against Floyd Cummings, which resulted in a draw.
Sold in 1983 for a mere $250,000, the sprawling Amphitheater became difficult to maintain, and proved unable to attract enough large events to pay for its own upkeep. It was eventually sold to Cardenas & Fernandez and then the City of Chicago, which had no more success at attracting events than its previous owner. In August 1999, demolition of the International Amphitheater began. An Aramark Uniform Services plant is located on the site once occupied by the Amphitheatre.
Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Dec 31, 2013 20:28:31 GMT -6
Built to host the International Live Stock Exhibition when Chicago was hog butcher to the world, the amphitheater was commissioned in 1934 by Frederick Henry Prince, then head of the Union Stock Yard and Transit Company. Its original building stood at 42nd and Halsted Streets, on the east side of the Chicago Union Stock Yard, four miles from the Loop.
Abraham Epstein's design became a prototype of future convention halls; when construction finished, Chicago's reign as a convention capital began. Among the amphitheater's many innovations were air conditioning and media space. Darkrooms sat only 30 feet from the speakers' platform; radio and television studios rested above; and coaxial cables allowed both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions to be seen nationwide for the first time in their history. The amphitheater hosted five presidential nominating conventions, including the famously riotous 1968 Democratic National Convention. In 1975, members of the Nation of Islam convened there to appoint Wallace Muhammad successor to his father.
In the late twentieth century, amphitheater crowds were more likely audiences than conventioneers, witnessing performances by Frank Sinatra, the Beatles, the Ringling Brothers, and Elvis. Wrestling became the amphitheater's biggest draw in the 1980s; one of the last big matches hosted there featured future Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura. As convention business moved to newer venues in the suburbs or to McCormick Place, which was closer to downtown hotels, the sprawling complex became difficult to maintain. Built for $1.5 million, the building sold in 1983 to a real-estate investor for $250,000. Over the next decade, it hosted too few large events to pay for its own upkeep and, on August 3, 1999, a backhoe began the formidable process of demolishing the amphitheater.
Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Dec 31, 2013 20:40:00 GMT -6
The International Amphitheatre located at 43rd and Halsted St. in Chicago was the home for Chicago's wrestling scene for years. It was located around the famous Chicago Stockyards area and beside the wrestling that was held there it also played host to the Chicago Bulls, Chicago Cougar WHL hockey team, outdoors shows, auto shows and the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention. Big name music stars that played there included The Beatles, Elvis Presley, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley. We will only talk about the wrestling in this famous building in this column.
There were two entrances to the place, a west side and an east side. Halsted St. led to the east entrance and the west entrance went out to the huge parking lot. The west parking lot was where you parked and it was a gathering place for the many fans that used to wait to catch a glimpse of their favorite wrestlers coming to the building. They all parked in a designated area very close to the west entrance. In warmer weather you were always able to get an autograph or a picture from Pepper Gomez, Moose Cholak or Wilbur Snyder. The heels always played their role to the hilt and never signed anything in front of a crowd, but if alone you could get them to sign. All the years that I attended, I never saw Bruiser sign a single autograph.
The Sirloin Room was on the north end of the complex. This restaurant played host to Promoter Bob Luce's well attended pre-match steak dinner. These were held about two hours before bell time. For a set price you would receive a ringside ticket, a lucky number program and a great steak dinner. Luce would always be available to chat, pose for pictures and sign autographs. The big extra was that Luce would always bring a wrestler along to do the same thing.
Art Thomas, Bob Ellis, Wilbur Snyder, Paul Christy, Angelo Poffo, Reggie Parks and Billy Red Cloud were among the ones that I met at these dinners. After dinner you just had to make the trek up to Bob Luce's Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame, which was located on the 2nd floor of the arena. It was not just all the AWA and WWA stars of the time that were enshrined but wrestlers like Ray Gunkel, Freddie Blassie, Joe Blanchard and Dickie Steinborn, that hadn't appeared in years in Chicago.
Post by The Ultimate Nullifier on Dec 31, 2013 20:42:46 GMT -6
It was always a special night when a wrestler would be inducted. Luce would walk up to the Hall with the wrestler and even if he was a heel, the fans would give him an ovation as he was inducted. The wrestler would then give a speech and normally sign autographs for awhile.
There was also a movie room, where Luce was playing classics for the fans to watch. The most requested one was always the cage match with Bruiser & Crusher going against The Blackjacks from Soldier Field. Probably the most noteworthy induction was the night that Ox Baker was put in the Hall. He brought The Valiant Brothers along and you could laugh as Handsome Jimmy and The Ox, two of the best speakers in the business put on a tremendous show and then broke kayfabe as they signed autographs and posed for pictures with the fans. In a future installment we will give the entire list of the HOF.
Lucky number programs were sold at both entrances and the fix was in most of the time. The winning programs were either kept under the table or on the very bottom of the pile. The crowds were always loud and rowdy. There were always fights in the stands and a lot of debris was thrown at wrestlers if the crowd objected to their tactics. Fans in the first two rows got hit sometimes with misguided objects flying through the air. The most famous incident was when a disgruntled fan opened fire on the ring during a match with Vern Gagne defending the title against Nick Bockwinkel with Bobby Heenan. At the time, I thought it was firecrackers but after a few moments you could tell it was gunshots. A few ringsiders were hurt but not seriously. The place was absolute chaos that night as the fans stampeded the exits. I was in elevated ringside and just waited it out.
The most popular wrestlers in this era were Bruiser, Crusher, Billy Robinson, Bobo Brazil, Vern Gagne and Wilbur Snyder. Bobby Heenan was the most despised with his Blackjacks, Nick Bockwinkel, Baron Von Rashcke and Mad Dog Vachon right behind him. Biggest crowd was when Bruno Sammartino came in to team with Bruiser against Ernie Ladd and Jimmy Valiant. You just couldn't move that night. Some other memorable moments were...
Gagne's retirement victory over Adrian Adonis.
In the 50's, Bruiser being seriously injured in a match with Reggie Lisowski, who would later become The Crusher and sell this place out many times with Bruiser as his partner.
Chris Taylor against Mad Dog Vachon in a match which was televised by ABC's Wide World of Sports. The build up for the Ali-Inoki match where Ali fought against Kenny Jay and Buddy Wolfe. Freddie Blassie and Bruiser got involved in that prematch hype.
The famous "We Want Blood" roars during matches involving Bruiser and Crusher.
When the final bell finally tolled on the old building it was odd that the stars that drew the biggest houses through the years were not on the card! Bruiser, Gagne, Crusher and Snyder were nowhere to be found that night. The final main event saw Jerry Lawler go against Ken Patera, who was managed by both Andy Kaufman and Bobby Heenan.