Arena entertainment began in Cleveland at the 2,000-seat Elysium, located at Euclid Avenue and East 107th Street. The facility was built in 1907 by local sports promoter Al Sutphin. It became home for the International Hockey League's Cleveland Falcons (later renamed the Cleveland Barons). But, hockey was a fast growing passion in Cleveland and by the mid-1930s, the Elysium was too small to accommodate the increasing number of fans. So, in 1938, Cleveland hockey moved to the Cleveland Arena, a 10,000-seat "All-Sport Palace" built to accommodate growing numbers of hockey fans .... and more! During its lifetime, the Cleveland Arena was home to a variety of sports teams, including the Crusaders of the World Hockey Association, the Rebels of the Basketball Association of America, the Pipers of the American Basketball League and finally, the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association.
And, just like its future relative Gund Arena, the Cleveland Arena hosted a variety of other events. The Ice Follies, rock-n-roll concerts, rodeos, pro wrestling, bicycle races, high school and college basketball tournaments, every indoor event you can imagine.
But, much like its predecessor the Elysium, the Arena became somewhat outdated with time. Plus, more and more people were beginning to attend events, and there was a need for a larger facility. In 1974, indoor events moved from downtown Cleveland to the new 20,000-seat Coliseum 25 miles south of the city in Richfield, Ohio. The Coliseum was purchased by George and Gordon Gund in 1981, who operated it for 13 years prior to moving back downtown to Gund Arena in 1994.
July 22, 1999 - by Jeff Kulik
The Cleveland Arena (3700 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland Ohio -- address later changed to 3717 Euclid Avenue) opened on November 11, 1937 with a performance of the Ice Follies.
The first hockey game in the 9,847 seat arena was played on November 17, 1937 between the Cleveland Barons of the American Hockey League and the New York Rangers of the NHL.
The Cleveland Crusaders of the WHA played their very first game there October 11, 1972 against the Quebec Nordiques. The last ever hockey game in the Arena was played on April 13, 1974 -- the Crusaders lost to Toronto in the first round of the playoffs.
The NBA Cavaliers also played in the Arena until 1974. Together with the Crusaders, they moved to the Richfield Coliseum for the 1974-75 season. Seating capacity for basketball at the Arena was approximately 11,000.
The Arena was demolished in April, 1977. Today, the modest area headquarters of the American Red Cross sits on the site.
* "The Man in the Arena: The Life and Times of A.C. Sutphin", George Condon
* "Forgotten Glory: The Story of Cleveland Barons Hockey", Gene Kiczek (1994)
* "High Sticks and Hat Tricks: A History of Hockey in Cleveland", Gene Kiczek
The Cleveland Crusaders were the city of Cleveland's first attempt at major league hockey. Playing in the World Hockey Association from 1972 to 1976, they struggled through their brief life. Originally conceived as the Calgary Broncos, the Calgary franchise was forced to withdraw before it started due to financial trouble. Calgary would later recieve the Calgary Cowboys. The franchise was then re-granted, this time to Nick Mileti, the sports tycoon of Cleveland. He already owned the Indians, and Cavaliers, as well as having interest in the AHL's Cleveland Barons. (Incidentally, the Barons were the name of Cleveland's short-lived NHL franchise.) The agreement was that the Crusaders, granted in June 1972, would be operational by the start of the 1972-73 season. Players chosen by the now-defunct Calgary Broncos were then pursued by the Crusaders. Mileti was successful in signing Boston Bruins netminder Gerry Cheevers to the lineup, which was mostly prospects and minor leaguers. Behind the bench was Bill Needham, who led the club to a second place finish, defeating the Philadelphia Blazers before losing to New England in the playoffs. The offense sputtered for 1973-74, as Cleveland dropped to third in the eastern Division, bowing in the playoffs to the Toronto Toros.
Information on this page is from The Complete Historical and Statistical Reference to the World Hockey Association 1972-1979; by Scott Adam Surgent as written by Andrew Stiffler
February 11, 2008 Gerryl Schultz wrote: According to databasebasketball.com, The Cincinnati Royals played nine games for the 1966-67 season at the Cleveland Arena, eleven games at the Cleveland Arena in the 1967-68 season and eleven more games at the Cleveland Arena in the 1968-69 season.