Norfolk Scope is a cultural, entertainment, convention and sports complex at the northern perimeter of downtown Norfolk, Virginia, comprising an approximately 11,000 person arena, a 2,500-person theater known as Chrysler Hall, a 10,000 square foot exhibition hall and a 600 car parking garage. The arena was designed by Italian architect/engineer Pier Luigi Nervi in conjunction with the (now defunct) local firm of Williams and Tazewell, which designed the entire complex. Nervi's design for the arena's reinforced concrete dome evolved from the PalaLottomatica and the much smaller Palazzetto dello Sport, which were built in the 1950s for the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
History and design
After watching the 1960 Rome Summer Olympics on television, and seeing the Palazzo and Palazzetto dello Sport, Brad Tazewell and Jim Williams, two Norfolk architects, solicited U.S. Sen. A. Willis Robertson, father of Pat Robertson, to build a sports complex in Norfolk. Subsequently, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Robertson to support federal funding for a multimillion-dollar cultural center in Colorado and Robertson said he would if Johnson would support one in Norfolk. Williams and Tazewell was subsequently commissioned; they in turn commissioned Nervi.
The complex was an important part of the first phase of Norfolk's post World War II revitilzation. A large section of the city's downtown was razed, and the Scope complex was to "anchor" its northern corner, with the Vincent Kling designed Courthouse and Civic complex anchoring the Eastern edge of downtown.
From 2000 to 2003, Norfolk Scope was home to an arena football team, the now-defunct Norfolk Nighthawks of the AF2 developmental league.
Norfolk Scope formerly was home to the now-defunct American Basketball Association (ABA) Virginia Squires professional basketball franchise. The Squires were a regional franchise that played at Scope, the Roanoke Civic Center, Richmond Coliseum and Hampton Roads Coliseum (now Hampton Coliseum) – all within the state of Virginia – from 1970 to 1976. The Squires moved to Virginia after spending one year in Washington, D.C. as the Washington Caps (1969–70), and two years in Oakland as the Oakland Oaks (1967–69). The Squires played their first game at Scope on November 27, 1970 versus the Dallas Chaparrals, (now known as the San Antonio Spurs) and their last game on April 7, 1976, versus the New York Nets (now known as the Brooklyn Nets). Hall-of-Fame player Julius "Dr. J." Erving played for the Squires during the 1971-72 and 1972-73 seasons after leaving the University of Massachusetts early to sign with the ABA. The franchise was not included in the 1976 ABA-NBA merger.