The University Coliseum was completed and opened in December of 1976. Designed as a spectator facility where various sports and special events could be scheduled the coliseum is basically an open arena with a playing/performing court with 5,000 fixed seat and 3,200 other sides with folding bleachers or temporary seating. A circular concourse level surrounds the arena.
Designed by Fort Worth Architect Preston M. Garen and constructed by Waco Construction the new Health and Physical Education Building contract was let for $3,589,000 dollars. The new University Coliseum received awards for design excellence and was published in many professional journals.
Here are a few facts about the building when it opened:
1. There are 19 sections of seats labeled A through S with 18 entry ways.
2. There are 56 doorways.
3. 12 water fountains
4. 4 trophy cases
5. Four ticket offices
6. 36 cigarette urns
7. 24 trash cans that weigh 44 pounds apiece.
8. The press room was in the concourse.
9. The Coliseum contain 11, 752 square feet in the concourse area, 44, 666 square feet outside the concourse area, and about 78, 000 square feet in total.
10. The plastic seats alone are worth $178,000.
11. The building houses a 16,000 square foot playing floor made of a synthetic material called “sportstred.”
12. The glass, called “windowwall” decorates 6, 384 square feet of the Coliseum’s outside walls. It is bronze tinted with the aluminum around the glass having a bronze finish.
It remained the University Coliseum until the Texas State University System at its meeting of August 21, 1987, voted to name the coliseum in honor of former regent of the TSUS, Bernard G. Johnson of Houston, Texas. At the December 12, 1987 commencement program Bernard G. Johnson was the commencement speaker. During this commencement Johnson was also awarded an honorary Ph. D, as a Doctor of Philosophy and the University Coliseum was dedicated as the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum.
This year the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum will celebrate their 40th year of service. In that time changes in the building and the events that are held there have been varied from musical groups, commencements for the University and area high schools, basketball games, volleyball games, hurricane storm shelter, to a new sparkling cooper roof and a brand new floor.
The featured photograph is from, “The Presidents Report of 1975-76,” The completed building photograph shows the new building with a grassy area across the street from the building. Today that grassy area is across the street on Bobby K. Marks Drive and Bowers Boulevard and is a parking lot in front with intramural fields in the back.
Please come visit the University Archives in room 400 of the NGL to see more about the Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum. Also be sure to visit the Johnson Coliseum for a special exhibit on the history of the building.