Arkansas State Travels To Historic Coliseum

Arkansas State sports history includes the LA Coliseum. Red Wolves look to add to it.

Most of the Red Wolf players are too young to remember the great events there, but for many AState fans the opportunity to travel to the Los Angeles Coliseum is chance to step into some of the great moments of sports history. The players will be more focused on their own chance of making history there.

The first stadium to host two Summer Olympics the Coliseum is already a part of Arkansas State sports history.

Jonesboro native and former Arkansas State pole vaulter Earl Bell had to miss the 1980 Olympics in Moscow because of the U.S. boycott. The 1984 Olympics gave him another shot and he earned the bronze medal in the Coliseum.

Another AState track and field star Al Joyner, a three-time NCAA outdoor All-American and winner of one NCAA championship became the first American in 80 years to take the gold medal in the triple jump in the 1984 Summer Olympics. Joyner received the Jim Thorpe Award for being the best American competitor in a field event in the 1984 Olympics.

The Coliseum hosted the first Super Bowl and hosted a second Super Bowl. It is the only one of the first seven Super Bowl stadiums still standing and only the Coliseum and Rice Stadium remain from the first ten Super Bowls.

It is one of four stadiums to host a Super Bowl and a World Series (others are Qualcomm, formerly Jack Murphy Stadium, the Metrodome, and Sun Life Stadium).

USC has called the stadium home since it opened in 1923 and from 1933 to 1981 shared the stadium with cross-city rivals UCLA.

The stadium was proposed as site for a bowl in 2010, that game never came into existence but it has twice hosted bowl games. In 1924 the stadium hosted the sole edition of the Los Angeles Christmas Bowl as USC played AState’s next opponent Missouri. The Trojans won 20-7. In 1961 Fresno State faced Bowling Green in the Mercy Bowl a fund-raiser in the memory of 16 Cal Poly SLO players killed in a plane crash after a game in 1960.

In pro football it was the home of the Rams and Raiders of the NFL, the Los Angeles Dons of the AAFC (the Dons merged into the Rams when the two leagues merged), Chargers of the AFL, Express of the USFL, and Xtreme of the XFL and hosted the only XFL championship game.

The Coliseum has hosted four football teams in a season several times. The Rams, Dons, USC, and UCLA from 1946 to 1949 and the Rams, Chargers, USC and UCLA in 1960. During that 1960 season it was also the home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The stadium was the first home of the Dodgers when they moved to California. The team played there from 1958 to 1961 and the stadium hosted not only a World Series, but a Major League All-Star game. A 2008 exhibition between the Dodgers and Red Sox drew an all-time, all levels attendance record crowd for baseball of 115,300.

John F. Kennedy accepted the 1960 Democratic presidential nomination at the stadium. His acceptance speech was the first time he used the phrase “New Frontier”. The late president used his stadium speeches well using previously mentioned Rice Stadium for the speech where he said, “But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain. Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?”

The Coliseum was the first stadium to host a motorcross event. It has hosted auto racing. Those of us of a certain age remember that Evel Knievel jumped 50 stacked cars on ABC’s Wide World of Sports at the Coliseum.

While it was not one of the sites for the World Cup hosted by the US, the stadium hosted major international tournaments as well as being the home field for some of the earlier attempts at pro soccer in the US including the NASL.

A list of music acts who have played the Coliseum would be a who’s who of major bands and performers.

Even sports not played in the stadium have found a use for it with the Lakers concluding their 2009 championship victory parade there.

Some of the greatest to ever play football, baseball and soccer played on the field there.

Saturday Arkansas State football will be on a mission to try to add a great milestone in the history of the program in arguably the most historically significant stadium in the United States.

If they overcome the odds, they won’t be the first from AState to win there.