University of Nebraska Coliseum
Lincoln, NE


Vintage postcard of the NU Coliseum c.1950s

The University of Nebraska Coliseum, which sits nestled on the campus in Lincoln at 14th and Vine Streets, is a beautiful display of architecture highlighted by its powerful Roman columns gracing the front steps.  With a seating capacity for basketball at just under 4000, it opened in 1926 as the home for the Huskers basketball team.1


Columns on the front of the Coliseum - Sep. 20, 2009

On May 19, 1956, while on a tour of the Midwest, Elvis, Scotty, Bill and D.J. performed one show at the NU Coliseum.  That month, along with the Jordanaires, the opening Variety show acts consisted of the Flaim brothers and their orchestra, Irish tenor Frankie Connors and comedian Phil Maraquin.


Elvis, dressed as he appeared in Lincoln - c.1956
Photo from "Elvis Presley - de biografie van een fenomeen" courtesy FECC/the fool

The review in the Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star newspaper the following day read as follows:  Elvis Presley, one of the nation' leading exponents of the "rock and roll" vocal, kept Lincoln police busy Saturday night as they tried to hold back 3,000 wildly screaming teen-agers during the singer's performance at the University of Nebraska Coliseum. Presley, garbed in yellow sports coat with black stripes, a blue iridescent shirt with kimono collar, black pegged trousers, and hair coiffured in "ducktails" and sideburns, had the young Lincolnites in such frenzied pitch they tried to grab him off the stage.2


D.J. Elvis and Bill at the Coliseum - May 19, 1956
Photo from "The Man and His Music" courtesy FECC/Hilton22000

One girl knocked down all of the stage footlights while trying to grab the singer. Another grabbed a cord which disconnected the entire loudspeaker system. When the performance was finished, teenagers mobbed the stage. A cordon of policemen finally got Presley out of the Auditorium.

Police said their instructions were to escort Presley to a state car waiting out front immediately after his performance. Presley, however, said he did not want to leave. He was signing autographs and having his picture taken with some of his teenage fans. Because of the press of the crowd, police finally forcibly escorted Presley out of the Coliseum and into the waiting car.2


 Elvis, D.J., Bill and the Jordanaires at the Coliseum - May 19, 1956
Photo from "The Man and His Music" courtesy FECC/Hilton22000

The crowd was carried to a high pitch of near hysteria by the acts preceding Presley, which kept increasing in tempo with rock and roll rhythm and old time hand clapping hymns.

During an interview Presley said he has been in the entertainment business for a year and a half. When asked what type of music he sings, Presley said it was "a little rock and roll and a little hillbilly." Asked how the frenzied reaction by teenage girls affected him, Presley said he thought it was "great, makes you want to kill yourself to do everything you can to please them." 2


Elvis sings autographs in a blurring of teen-age fans - May 19, 1956
Lincoln Star Journal Photo courtesy Lincoln Public Library

Presley said he didn't believe his singing was a bad influence on teenagers. "It's not bad, its just rock and roll, and its been around for five years now - maybe it's not good, but I don't say it's bad. Once it was the Charleston, now everything is rock and roll.

Presley denied reports he wants to be an author. "I don't know too much more than how to write my name, and anyone says that I told them I was going to write a book is just plain crazy." "I don't even smoke or drink," Presley said, "and I started singing as a gospel singer and come from a Christian home." 2

The following day, the band played two shows at the new Civic Auditorium in Omaha.


The Bob Devaney Sports Center
Photo by dahusker

The University's basketball team played at the Coliseum until 1977, when the construction on the Bob Devaney Sports Center with its a 13,595-seat multi-purpose arena was completed.  Since then, the volleyball team had been its primary tenant. In 1991, the Huskers had a one-year hiatus from the Coliseum while the building was being renovated and tailored for volleyball. The renovation provided a more comfortable atmosphere for players, coaches and fans. Among the additions were a new sound system, scoreboard, overhead lights and a new floor. Offices for coaches and administrators, as well as a conference/media room, were constructed for a better working environment.1


Volleyball fans in the NU Coliseum - 2008
Photo Huskers.com

Over the years, the building has seen numerous additions to add to the comfort of both players and fans, while keeping the tradition of the building and the Husker volleyball program. Over the past decade, locker rooms, training areas and coaches offices have all been upgraded to provide Husker student-athletes with some of the best facilities in the country. For fans, HuskerVision replay boards, a new scoreboard and new displays have been added.1


Volleyball in the NU Coliseum - 2009
Photo Huskers.com

Additional seating for fans was created in 2005, with the addition of the Husker Courtside Club. This added 60 premium seats on the Coliseum floor, giving fans an up-close view of all of the exciting volleyball action, and making Nebraska one of the first programs in the country to add premium courtside seating for volleyball. Over the years, the 4,030-seat NU Coliseum has provided the Nebraska volleyball program with an unmatched home-court advantage.

Nebraska volleyball has had unmatched success in the confines of the cozy Coliseum, posting 16 undefeated seasons and compiling an all-time record of 468-30 (.940) under its roof. The Huskers are 183-12 (.949) since 1990 in the building, including 10 undefeated seasons in that span.1


Wrestling at the NU Coliseum - 2007
Photo Huskers.com

The NU Coliseum is also a perfect setting for college wrestling.  It was home to the National Duals from 1993 to 1997, and hosted the 2009 Big 12 Championships.1


Coliseum Big 12 Wrestling Championship HDR
courtesy ZachTGray

The attendance record for a wrestling dual in the Coliseum is 3,442, set on Feb. 10, 2005, when the Huskers dualed top-ranked Oklahoma State.1


NU Coliseum - Sep. 20, 2009


NU Coliseum - Sep. 20, 2009


Aerial views of the NU Coliseum - 2009
Photos Microsoft EarthData

Page added October 16, 2009

All 1956 ads and articles courtesy the Lincoln Public Library.

1 excerpts from and according to University of Nebraska's official Huskers Website
2
from " 3,000 Teen-Age Fans Scream for Presley" By Paul Means, Lincoln Sunday Journal and Star - May 20, 1956

 

All photos on this site (that we didn't borrow) unless otherwise indicated are the property of either Scotty Moore or James V. Roy and unauthorized use or reproduction is prohibited.

 
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