|Former names||Weinberg Coliseum|
|Location||721 S. Fifth Ave.|
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
|Closed||1973 (for hockey)|
|Owner||University of Michigan|
|Operator||University of Michigan|
|Michigan Wolverines ice hockey (1920-1973)|
The University of Michigan Coliseum (formerly the Weinberg Coliseum) is an indoor gymnasium located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was the home of the Michigan varsity ice hockey team from 1920 to 1973 when they moved into the Yost Ice Arena after it was converted into an ice hockey arena after the Crisler Arena opened in 1967 to house the men's and women's basketball teams.. It is currently used as an all-purpose facility for several Michigan sports programs.
The foundation for the original indoor rink was likely poured in 1909 by local Ann Arbor contractor Fred Weinberg.
Weinberg's indoor ice rink, the first in town, boasted a huge Wurlitzer player organ, akin to a player piano, which imitated the sounds of an entire orchestra. Songs like the Skater's Waltz, The Blue Danube Waltz, and the Poet and Peasant Overture were played again and again, so often that a generation of older Ann Arborites who used to patronize the place can still vividly recollect the sound as if it were being played today. The organ was so loud, in fact, that it could be heard all over the neighborhood. Fred Weinberg's son Nate (of the old Nate's Boat Shop) recalls that the music carried clearly over to their house on Mary Street, some four blocks away, whenever the windows were open and the rink was in session, which was frequent. The building had no heat and no refrigeration equipment. To freeze the ice, the windows were simply opened to let in the cold air. New layers of ice were added to build up the surface in case of warm spells. Because conditions at his ice arena were unpredictable, Weinberg arranged with State Street merchants to post flags in front of their stores on days when there was enough ice for skating.
After the University of Michigan purchased the facility in 1925 an artificial ice system was installed and gave the ice hockey team a home with consistent ice. While the facility served as the home for the team for over fifty years the building was prohibitively small, even after a 1949 remodeling, and was eventually replaced by the Yost Ice Arena in 1973. During its lifetime as an ice rink, the Weinberg Coliseum was home to seven National Championship teams.
When it was too warm for ice skating, the Coliseum was often used for circuses, speeches, horse shows, indoor carnivals, dances, roller skating, and other special events.
Weinberg's Coliseum played host to the U-M's first ice hockey game, in 1920, and to over fifty hockey seasons thereafter.
After the ice was removed for the final time the Coliseum was recycled for use as a gymnasium and used by various university programs over the years but mostly by the men's and women's gymnastics teams.
Adjacent outdoor rink
Weinberg's Coliseum supplemented the older outdoor ice rink next to it, which Weinberg had built some twelve years earlier. In fact, the coliseum's doors opened onto the outside ice, which extended all the way to John Street. That rink, which doubled as a swimming pool in summer, was fed by springs on nearby city property, where the Michigan Stadium now stands. At first, the swimming pool was a rather primitive affair. Jonas Otto, Weinberg's nephew, remembers how he earned spending money as a boy by pulling frogs out of the pool. A cement pool bottom was poured about the same time the indoor rink was built.
Skating on Weinberg's original outdoor rink was preferable to skating on the Huron River or other ponds around town because of the live music provided by Weinberg's brother-in-law, Louis Otto, leader of Otto's Band, and seven or eight of his musicians. They would sit and play in a small hut in the middle of the rink, closing the windows periodically so they could warm up.
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