PORTLAND, Ore. – Veterans Memorial Coliseum was designated a national treasure on Thursday by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
It’s the first building in Portland to get the designation from the nonprofit trust; there are roughly 65 buildings nationwide that have received the title.
The coliseum was built in 1960 and has seen better days. The last estimate for needed upgrades was $35 million. The trust takes into account historical, architectural and cultural value. But it also looks at potential benefits to the community and potential threats to the building’s existence.
“We believe the coliseum can be a cultural centerpiece of a high density transit oriented district and we even imagine a time when the Moda Center is torn down but the coliseum still stands,“ said Friends of the Coliseum leader Brian Libby.
His comment got laughter from the crowd, to which Libby said he was serious. That drew some laughter, too.
But there is the feeling among supporters that Veterans Memorial Coliseum holds a higher stature than the Rose Garden Arena turned Moda Center.
After all, the coliseum was the Portland Trail Blazers' first home, and where they won championship in 1977. It’s where thousands of events have happened over the years, from rock concerts to presidential visits to graduation ceremonies. It is currently home to the Portland Winterhawks hockey team.
Not everyone thinks the old coliseum is worth saving. And the national treasure designation does not come with any legal guarantee it won’t someday be raised. But this summer, the city is spending some money to give the “glass palace” a new roof.