El Paso County Coliseum celebrates 75 years in community

El Paso County Coliseum (Credit: Robert Holguin/KFOX14)

It was built in 1942 and it was originally a livestock exposition building. But the El Paso County Coliseum would go one to become one of the most popular entertainment venues in the Southwest.

"If you're an El Pasoan, you have a coliseum story and it usually revolves around emotion," said Brian Kennedy, the CEO of the El Paso Sports Commission, which operates the county-owned facility. "It could be, 'My grampa brought me to Lucha Libre. I watched the Guerreros wrestle here.' It could be, 'I saw Disney on Ice' or 'I saw the rodeo when the rodeo was huge.'"

The county coliseum is currently in the middle of its 75 anniversary. Over the past seven decades, it has been home to countless concerts featuring some of the biggest names in entertainment.

"Elvis, of course, is one of the big ones," said Kennedy. "He played here a couple of times. We had slender Elvis and not-so-slender Elvis. You know, one of Selena's last shows was here. Johnny Cash was here. Jackson Five played in here."

Kennedy says the Coliseum - known by many as The Barn - has a built reputation as a legendary venue.

"When you start to become part of what is the city, that's when you become a legacy building," said Kennedy. "It's not something you can just call yourself. It's something you have to become."

The coliseum is also a well-known sports venue. In 1967, it was home to the UTEP Miners when the Special Events Center was under construction. Currently it's home to the El Paso Coyotes, the arena-league soccer team.

Kennedy has been in charge of the coliseum for the past 18 years and he says things have changed for the better.

"There were some shows when we opened up fire houses when I first got here to try and cool the crowd down," he said. "So we've gone through some improvements to make things better."

Other improvements include changes to the box office and facade. Kennedy said the coliseum continues to serve a need in the community.

"You have to have different lanes and different niches and this niche is larger than theaters and smaller than arenas," he said. "You don't want to not have that in a town because then you lose all that entertainment."

The coliseum is located in south central El Paso on 4100 E Paisano Drive.

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