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   from the issue of September 20, 2007

From the Archives


The Coliseum shown in a photo dated April 17, 1927.
The Coliseum shown in a photo dated April 17, 1927.

The Coliseum was built in 1925 for $435,000 to house University of Nebraska basketball, intramural athletics, physical education for men and the annual June graduation ceremony.

In 1924, John K. Selleck, business manager for athletics, proposed the construction and naming of the "Coliseum." The facility was proposed to replace Grant Memorial Hall, which was too small for a growing campus population.

Selleck had worked with George Holmes, president of the First Trust Co., in the financing of the construction of Memorial Stadium. Money from stadium gate receipts helped assure that the stadium would be paid for. However, attempts to use future football receipts as security for a Coliseum construction loan produced no results.

Holmes (with the assistance of at least one friend) decided to make the loan himself.

The Board of Regents was reportedly happy with receiving the Coliseum as a gift. However, the Regents were not satisfied with the building as planned by Selleck and they requested a large stage that could accommodate opera companies, orchestras, faculty groups and commencement exercises. The Regents also asked that the stage be quipped with a lighting system, a curtain and other performance related extras.

The stage request pushed the proposed budget beyond the original financing. Members of the Athletic Building Association (on which Selleck also served) were wary of the extra costs and hesitated approval. Consequently, the Regents opted to provide tax money for the building of the stage.

Financing came from three sources - $100,000 from the university general fund, $135,000 cash from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, and $200,000 from a bond issue (paid by Athletics).

Construction was delayed initially by the location of the building. Despite further delays in steel deliveries, construction continued and the building was first occupied in fall 1925.

The Coliseum - now home to the top-rated Husker volleyball team - was upgraded as part of a five-year, $14.9 million campus recreation center project, which started in 1991. About $10 million of the money came from football game ticket sales. The University of Nebraska Foundation raised the remaining $5 million.

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From the Archives