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History of the Freeman Coliseum

We’re doing a deep dive into the history of this local landmark.

SATXtoday: Freeman Coliseum

The 74-year-old building has been the site of concerts, graduations, and expos.

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As the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo saddled up for its last ride of the year, we can’t help but wonder, what’s the history behind this famous local landmark?

Nestled on San Antonio’s east side, sharing a parking lot with the Frost Bank Center, lies the Freeman Coliseum. The 74 year-old building has hosted thousands of events ranging from concerts, graduations, boxing + tennis matches, rodeos, comic cons, and more. Let’s take a closer look at this piece of Alamo City history.

The beginning

Picture this: It’s November 1, 1947 and you’re witnessing the groundbreaking ceremony of the coliseum. After two years of construction, the facility finally opens to the public as the Bexar County Coliseum.

SATXtoday: Freeman Coliseum

The construction of Joe Freeman Coliseum between 1949-1950.

Photo from General Photograph Collection (UTSA Special Collections)

It wasn’t until January 10, 1981 when the venue received its current name, the Freeman Coliseum, taking after local brothers Harry and Joe Freeman. The pair of philanthropists originally promoted the construction of the indoor arena for cowboys to earn extra cash by showing off their ranching skills.

Here are some specs of the current coliseum:

  • Floor space of over 32,000 sqft
  • 10,000 parking spaces
  • Expo Halls provide an additional 170,000 sqft

Who’s been here?

Over the past 74 years, some of the biggest names in music have graced the halls of this venue. From Elvis Presley, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, and even Destiny’s Child have performed at the venue. The San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo got its start here in February 1950.

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The Beach Boys performed at the Freeman Coliseum on May 15, 1982.

Check out the full timeline and see who else has been here.

What’s happening now?

After receiving nearly $50 million in renovations in 2015, the venue continues to host major events and expos. Artistic improvements came to the coliseum with the commissioning of a mural by artist Garin Baker in 2020. Ready to make a visit? Stay up to date and see what events are coming to the coliseum via its website.

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