Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who Remembers The Monster Known As "The Barn?"

1958 when it was the St. Louis Arena, before becoming the "Checkerdome."  I last played the "Checkerdome" with Ringling Bros. in 1984 when Ward Hall's World of Wonders Side Show was contracted for the date.  I didn't realize there were once "spires" at the entrance until I came across the picture above.  Ward's show was contracted to "test" the public's reaction to a sideshow, and how it would play with the public.  The animal tent's were also opened to the public at St. Louis that year, admission being a side show ticket stub, which is how they got a "count" on how many people viewed the side show.  It was a resounding success and guess what opened the following year on the Red Unit?  That's right, The Living Unicorn which I have been told was Ringling Bros most financially successful show to date. 

February 27, 1999, the day of its controlled demolition.

The St. Louis Arena, known as The Checkerdome from 1977 to 1983, was an indoor arena located in St. Louis, Mo. that stood from 1929 to 1999.  It was directly across from the world famous St. Louis Zoo which made it a great meeting place for zoo and circus animal professionals.  The arena was the site of conventions, concerts, political rallies, horse shows, circuses, boxing matches, Roller Derby competitions, the 1973 and 1978 NCAA men's basketball Final Four, the NCAA Men's Midwest Regional finals in 1982, 1984 and 1993, the 1992-94 Missouri Valley Conference men's basketball tournament, and the 1975 NCAA Frozen Four ice hockey finals.  The arena was home to various sports teams notably the beloved St. Louis Blues of the NHL.  In fact Blue's fan's were up in arm's that the site of the former building was not declared "holy land," and given the same designation as Temple Mount when construction of an apartment and hotel complex were started.  :)


Casey said...

What do you think Jim Alexander ? Kind of brings a tear too your eye. I played there many times with all the arena shows i worked in the past 50 years

Jim A. said...

I met the tiger trainer on the show that year. Claimed to know Jimmy Hall and often wore a tie (no jacket but he wore a tie). Side show had a fire eater, sword swallower, I think "electric lady".

Life was good when we had the Police Circus in the spring and Ringling in the fall. The Zoo and the Arena were only three blocks apart - lots of visiting back and forth. Col. Herriott would talk about when the Cole show wintered in the Arena and all the STL zoo guys he knew. The old building was full of circus history.

Wade G. Burck said...

Are you sure, because I never knew anyone who admitted to knowing James C. Hall. Normally fierce denial's. I can only assume the tie with no jacket was way more dashing then a robin egg blue blazer and white buck shoe's. But I am just assuming...... I didn't know the Cole show actually wintered there. Did they use the building or set up tent's in the parking lot?