LAST DAYS OF THE COLISEUM
For 30 years the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum served as the pop culture temple for baby boomers
Some loved it. Others hated it. Many driving past wondered what took place inside that rusting hulk seemingly dumped next to the Route 34 Connector in New Haven, Conn. Last Days of the Coliseum tells the complete story of the New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum within the context of the cultural upheavals of baby boomers whose pop culture gods of rock, hockey and pro wrestling routinely appeared there before it closed in 2002.
Weaving rare photographs, animation, archival footage and interviews with architect Kevin Roche, concert promoter Jim Koplik and legendary hockey coach Parker Macdonald among many others, producer Rich Hanley reveals surprising stories behind the Coliseum’s design, New Haven’s long, tortured history with rock music and hockey, and how a soft-spoken usher named Howard Finkel launched a hall-of-fame career as a pro wrestling ring announcer there.
In meticulous detail, the documentary examines the cultural shifts and engineering decisions behind the Coliseum’s slow destruction, just a few decades after opening to great promise. Among the people interviewed are architect Kevin Roche, concert promoter Jim Koplik, musicians G.E. Smith and Dave Schneider, New Haven hockey historian Kevin Tennyson. Dr. Douglas Rae of Yale University and World Wrestling Entertainment Hall of Fame ring announcer, Howard Finkel.
The documentary Last Days of the Coliseum stands as a historical rendering of a time and place that exist today only in the memories of the baby boomers who exchanged the revolution of the sixties for the pleasures of the seventies. The implosion that felled the Coliseum in 2007 signaled the start of their long exodus from the stage as a primary gathering point of their lives turned to rubble.
About the Producer
Rich Hanley is a New Haven resident who has produced, written and directed a number of the most popular documentaries in Connecticut television history, including the Flood of 1955 and the Hartford Circus Fire. He is an assistant professor of Journalism and Graduate Journalism Director at Quinnipiac University. Prior to joining Quinnipiac in 2001, Hanley served as a reporter and Web producer at a variety of newspapers and magazines, including Time.