Preservation Texas announced last week that the El Paso County Coliseum has been added to its 2023 List of Texas’s Most Endangered Places. Former State Sen. Jose Rodriguez and Dr. Max Grossman serve on the Board of Directors as the representatives of West Texas.
Constructed in 1942, the Coliseum is threatened with demolition because of the proposed expansion of the freeway system near the Bridge of the Americas.
Some feel the demolition is imminent and that a new venue should be built at Ascarate Park. Certain developers want the Hotel Occupancy Tax allocated for the Coliseum to be redirected toward the cost of constructing and operating a new arena. Still others want to fight the demolition and save the structure, which has served our community for 81 years.
Dr. David Dorado Romo studied the history of the Coliseum and shared his research with Preservation Texas, whose press release states:
“The El Paso County Coliseum was built in 1942, and while it was originally intended for rodeos and livestock shows, it initially served as a detention center for captured Italian POWs during WWII. Beginning in the early 1950s, the building served as a processing center for Braceros, and was also utilized as a stage for local civil rights movements. In 1972, the Coliseum was the main meeting place for La Raza Unida Party Convention, led by some of the most prominent Chicano civil rights leaders in the country including Corky Gonzáles, Reies Lopez Tijerina, and José Angel Gutiérrez. Although the building is currently being used for concerts, sporting events, and cultural performances, there are plans to demolish it to make way for the federally-funded Bridge of the America’s expansion project. Increased public awareness about the historical significance of the building, and education about the Section 106 consulting process, is needed to bolster efforts to oppose any government plans to demolish the building.”
Let’s hope that a plan can be devised to save the Coliseum and secure its place in the future of our community.
Photo Credit: El Paso County Coliseum in 1955, El Paso County Coliseum Archive