Remembering the ‘Last Days’ [VIDEO]

Hanley's documentary looks at the rise and fall of New Haven's Coliseum

By on November 2, 2010

When Quinnipiac students think New Haven, they think of Toad’s Place, Yale and other locales for college teens alike. For the previous New Haven generations, the place to be for music, sports and entertainment was the Coliseum, an arena destroyed in 2007 that is the focus of Rich Hanley’s new documentary: “Last Days of the Coliseum.”

“The history, as it turns out, really needed to be told,” Hanley said. “Because that’s a history that will never be repeated.”

Hanley, an assistant professor and director of the graduate journalism program, created the documentary to tell the tale of a previous staple of New Haven culture. Produced, directed and written by Hanley, the documentary gives detailed insight into the Coliseum, discussing its importance over the past century. The film screened at the TD Bank Sports Center on Monday to a varied audience of filmmakers, associates of the film and fans of the old building that brought memories to many.

See the trailer below:

“Having lived through the entire Coliseum era from start to finish, I think this was a fantastic production,” said Kenn Venit, an adjunct associate professor of journalism. “I’ve covered a lot of the events that were in that presentation, and it feels like yesterday. But the difference between yesterday and today is the quality put together for the film is extraordinary.”

Venit recalled the times spent at the famed arena, either with his wife seeing Frank Sinatra or with his children at the sporting events. Musicians such as Elvis Presley, Madonna, The Who, and Bruce Springsteen put the arena on the map as one of Connecticut’s premiere concert halls.

Music wasn’t the only staple of the Coliseum. Numerous minor league hockey teams passed through The Coliseum’s pillars.

“I’ve been to all their hockey games since the beginning,” Kevin Tennyson said. “I was a fan there for years and years.”

Tennyson, featured in the film during interviews discussing many New Haven Nighthawk games, was one of the many devoted fans over the years. The film focused heavily on the sports culture brought about by the New Haven teams and, towards the end of the film, its absence now.

“Certainly you can come here or Yale for your college teams,” Tennyson said. “But now if you want to go to minor pro league you have to go to Bridgeport or somewhere else. New Haven used to be the spot.”

With the closing of the film came the Coliseum’s final demise in January 2007. After being gutted from the inside of seats and interior fixtures, explosive charges imploded the building, reducing what was once an influential figure of New Haven to a heap of rubble.

Captured accurately and depicted flawlessly, Hanley’s film shows a side of the New Haven region beyond a sports arena.

The film will premiere Nov. 8 at 9 p.m. on CPTV. It will be sold on DVD through the film’s website, www.lastdaysofthecoliseum.com.

Photo credit: Zach Abrams

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About Phil Nobile

Senior Writer
Email: news@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @PhilNobile
Year: 2013
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: White Plains, N.Y.
Dream Job: Writer for The New York Times or Rolling Stone