Veterans Memorial Coliseum named ‘National Treasure’

Supporters hope this leads to funding for preservation

The Veterans Memorial Coliseum was named a 'National Treasure' in an announcement by the National Trust for Historical Preservation, June 9, 2016 (KOIN)
The Veterans Memorial Coliseum was named a 'National Treasure' in an announcement by the National Trust for Historical Preservation, June 9, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland’s Veterans Memorial Coliseum has been named a ‘National Treasure’ by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP).

The announcement was made Thursday morning inside the coliseum.

“A lot of history has been made here,” said Friends of Memorial Coliseum Co-Chair Stuart Emmons.

Built in 1960, the Memorial Coliseum went on to host many era-defining moments. The Beatles played two shows there during their 1965 American tour. Elvis played there in 1970.

Also in 1970, the coliseum became the home of the Portland Trailblazers. The team’s lone championship was won there in 1977.

In 2008, then-US Senator Barack Obama spoke there shortly before clinching the Democratic nomination for president.

“This will be one of 65 National Treasures,” said Emmons. “This building is on the national map.”

More recently, though, many have been divided over what to do with the coliseum. At 56-years old, the building needs significant funding for preservation and renovations, and that’s only if Portland keeps the building.

“Unless decisions are made very soon to make a significant reinvestment in the building, we’re going to run out of life for the building,” said NTHP Director Anthony Veerkamp.

Last fall Portland city councilmember Steve Novick introduced a plan to demolish the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Others had proposed renovations which would have radically changed the look and feel of the building.

The group Friends of Memorial Coliseum hopes Thursday’s announcement can help their push to preserve it.

“We would be nuts to tear this building down,” said Emmons. “This building has a great future ahead of it, if we do a restoration on it”

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