Richmond preparing Coliseum for possible demolition

The Richmond Coliseum was built in 1971. (Source: NBC12)
The Richmond Coliseum was built in 1971. (Source: NBC12)
Published: Jul. 19, 2021 at 9:39 PM EDT|Updated: Jul. 20, 2021 at 11:13 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond leaders are readying the old Coliseum for demolition. This is despite the fact that no final decision has been made by city council.

Critics accuse the mayor’s office of using it as a pretext to clear out the homeless population. Many have camped out there for months, some even setting up tents to sleep in.

“If you tear down the Richmond Coliseum, what’s it going to do to me?” asked a Richmond man who asked not to be identified. He has concerns now that he sees black polls being placed around the perimeter of the city’s now abandoned Coliseum. “It’s a lot of history here.”

He remembers when the event center was booming.

“1984 [or] 1985, the first hip-hop concert was here,” the man said. He says he even performed there that night.

The building that hasn’t been used since 2018 is now boarded up. Trash surrounds the premises, as well as tents for those who want to get a good night’s rest.

“Where are they going?” the man asked.

Richmond leaders are preparing the salvage process for the shuttered arena. The mayor says this is a prime area for new development.

“All part of Richmond’s renaissance,” said Lynne Lancaster, who works for the city. “Right now, what we’re doing is inventorying the items in there for salvage…and see if they could be revenue-generating, and then we’ll do an auction to generate some revenue to help [defray] costs.

Then she says the city will begin seeking bids for contractors who can demolish the venue. It’s early groundwork ahead of city council making an official vote to make it happen.

“I’m excited to see about all the different things that are happening in Richmond,” Lancaster added.

“If you’re going to push them out, push them to somewhere where they have shelter…Is it possible to make it into some type of homeless shelter, slash community center, slash something else? Can we do that?” the man asked.

The mayor says taxpayers pay some $800,000 a year to maintain a venue that’s getting no use. Once the salvage work gets underway, fencing and signs will go up, along with a requirement to have on hard hats and safety shoes while on the grounds.

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