Bojangles' Coliseum (originally Charlotte Coliseum and formerly Independence Arena and Cricket Arena) is a 9,605-seat multi-purpose arena, in Charlotte, North Carolina. It is operated by the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority, which also oversees the Ovens Auditorium and the Charlotte Convention Center. The title sponsor is Bojangles' Famous Chicken 'n Biscuits.
It was opened and dedicated in 1955, as Charlotte Coliseum. At the time, it was the largest unsupported steel dome in the World. After the new Charlotte Coliseum opened in 1988, the name was changed to Independence Arena (named for its location on Independence Boulevard in Charlotte) and it underwent an extensive renovation. In 2001, the arena was renamed Cricket Arena in a naming rights arrangement with Cricket Communications. In 2008, Bojangles Restaurants, Inc. bought the naming rights.
As the old Charlotte Coliseum it was a site for home games for the Carolina Cougars of the American Basketball Association from 1969 through 1974. The Cougars became tenants after the Houston Mavericks moved to North Carolina in 1969. The Cougars were a "regional franchise," playing "home" games in Charlotte (Bojangles' Coliseum), Greensboro (Greensboro Coliseum), Winston-Salem Memorial Coliseum and Raleigh (Dorton Arena). Hall of Fame Coach Larry Brown began his coaching career with the Cougars in 1972. Billy Cunningham was the ABA MVP for the Cougars in the 1972-73 season. Despite a strong fan base the Cougars were sold and moved to St. Louis in 1974.
It also hosted the ACC men's basketball tournament from 1968–1970, the Southern Conference men's basketball tournament from 1964-1971 (and again in 2010, for the first three days of the tournament), and was the site of the Sun Belt Conference men's basketball tournament from 1977 through 1980. Additionally, it hosted the Charlotte 49ers from 1976 until 1988, and again from 1993 through 1996.
The Carolina Speed of the American Indoor Football Association, formerly playing at the Cabarrus Arena & Events Center, moved here in 2009. After the season, they announced they would be sitting out the 2010 season and resuming play in 2011 back in Cabarrus. However, later on they changed their minds and returned in 2011 to the Coliseum, this time as a member of the Southern Indoor Football League.
The venue was also the home of minor league hockey in Charlotte from 1956, when the first Baltimore Clippers moved to Charlotte to become the early Checkers, to 1977, when the first version of the Checkers folded. When the Checkers were revived in 1993, they played there until 2005, and the arena would be available should Kelly Cup Playoff games be needed because of the unavailability of Time Warner Cable Arena as ECHL rules regarding playoff games and timeframes are compact and may force a game to be moved.
The arena also hosted the worst team in MILL history, the 1996 Charlotte Cobras (0-10). The 1996 season was their one and only in the MILL. The team was folded without ever winning a game. Starting in September 2012, the arena will be home to the Charlotte Copperheads of the Professional Lacrosse League. The Carolina Vipers played their one and only season in the CIS League in the summer of 1994. The team went 3-25 and then went "inactive" for 1995, never to return. The Vipers averaged 3,034 fans per game in their only season. The arena also hosted UFC Fight Night: Florian vs. Gomi on March 31, 2010.
It has been the site for the Spring Commencement ceremony of Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU) for a number of years. JCSU uses the coliseum because it offers more seating and parking capacity than JCSU's own on-campus facilities do. In addition, UNC-Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College and many local high schools have also held graduation ceremonies. A Billy Graham Crusade took place at the Coliseum in 1958. Also, the Bojangles' Coliseum hosted the graduation ceremony for Charlotte Campus of University of Phoenix. The Coliseum hosted NWA Wrestling and Mid-South Championship Wrestling in the 70's thru the 90's. WCW held numerous wrestling events there.
With the departure of the Charlotte Checkers for the new Time Warner Cable Arena in 2005, Bojangles Coliseum is left with no major tenant and its future remains in the air. It will remain open as a venue for medium-sized concerts and stage shows which would not be suitable for TWC Arena and also high school and some college sporting events, along with local attractions in years to come. The Southern Conference played the first two rounds of their basketball tournaments in 2010, then move the semifinals and finals to TWC Arena. Furthermore, it would be ready in case TWC Arena is unavailable for the ECHL Kelly Cup Playoffs, as the South Division's compact scheduling may affect games (arena availability for compact playoff series has been a problem in the ECHL historically). The arena is not likely to be demolished, as it holds a place on the Charlotte historical register.